AUSTIN — Could Austin be one step closer to making a home for a Major League soccer team?
City staff and Precourt Sport Ventures are done negotiating terms for a potential stadium at the McKalla Place site in North Austin, and now it will be up to city council.
So, they want to hear your opinion at a special meeting this Wednesday.
Some of the terms they agreed on are different than the original proposal from the soccer team. One being that PSV would now have to pay more than $500,000 each year to rent the facility from the City, not $1, which they originally proposed.
According to the terms, PSV would build the stadium and then donate it to the City. After six years, they would then pay the City $550,000 to rent the stadium, until the end of the 20-year lease.
"We had long conversations, long negotiations, a lot of changes from the original proposal, but the term sheet, the 25-page term sheet, both sides have agreed is a fair deal to both sides, and it will enable MLS to come to Austin,” said Attorney Richard Suttle, who represents Precourt Sport Ventures.
But councilwoman Leslie Pool said that's not enough, and said the City would still be giving away millions.
“The City of Austin has a history of bad negotiations. The City gives away too much, and they get too little in return, and this is another example of that,” said Pool.
Since the City would still own the property, PSV would not pay property taxes. According to her, the City's rent estimates are closer to $2 million, not $500,000.
With part of the terms requiring the City to set aside money for stadium repairs, she said the City will only earn about five percent of the money they could get for the site.
Pool said the terms are too vague and force taxpayers to subsidize a for-profit corporation.
“It’s got a lot of non-binding, unenforceable language about what they’re using the term 'good faith' in the agreement that leaves a lot to the imagination, and it doesn’t mean anything,” said Pool.
According to the terms, the soccer club would sign a non-relocation agreement, would allow for the City to host at least five civic-oriented events each year for no fee, and create youth programs for students and soccer players.
The new document also says the team will be responsible for site prep costs, whereas in the original proposal that responsibility fell to the City. Also, PSV would not receive discounted utilities under these terms, like in the original presentation.
"I think through the negotiation process, and the able negotiation skills of the City and their outside team, we came to a good agreement that both sides can agree to and move forward with MLS in Austin,” said Suttle.
The document also said the City and PSV will work together to create a transportation and parking plan, including finding other funding sources for a new Metro Rail station adjacent to the site.
“They wouldn’t be contributing at all in any manner to the rail station, and that was the top requirement on my list,” said Pool.
The terms say the soccer club should identify off-site parking, to allow fans to “park and ride” a shuttle to the stadium, in order to avoid parking at nearby businesses and neighborhoods.
While the original proposal from PSV included funding for affordable housing at an off-site location, the new terms create an acre of land where the City can create 130 affordable housing units.
“All they are saying is they are willing possibly to allow the City on its own land right, on the City’s own land, that they could use an acre to put up 130 units of housing, and they’re not going to help with it, they’re telling us what we can do with our own land, which is interesting, and they are basically just kicking a box, they are not actually doing anything in their proposal to make it happen, and they’re certainly not funding it,” said Pool.
The terms require the team to distribute no less than 1,000 complementary tickets, valued at about $30, for each game. Of those, about 100 will go to the City for a variety of programs.
The team’s name must also have “Austin” in it.
Pool plans to propose that this issue go to voters on the November ballot. She also wants to hold a public meeting on Aug. 7 to hear community input on other development ideas for the site.
As for these terms, the city council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday to allow the public to voice their opinion. Then the council may vote on the issue at their meeting next week.