AUSTIN – Protestors from a North Austin community rallied against a Major League Soccer Stadium coming to McKalla Place. They said they’d like to see the land use for something else that could benefit the city, such as affordable housing.
The rally took place across the street from the potential site of the new stadium on Burnet Road and Braker Lane. Members of the Gracewoods Neighborhood Association said they're against it because of what the investment group behind the stadium is asking from the city.
They said Precourt Sports Ventures wants the land for up to 80 years for a one dollar a year. They said the company is also asking to pay zero dollars in property taxes, which the community has a problem with.
"Leasing the property for a dollar a year for up to 80 years and the loss of property tax income from that is a significant loss to the city as well,” said Aline Guillot, who lives in the neighborhood.
“I call this a giveaway absolutely a big corporate giveaway,” said Barbara Rush. “This isn't about soccer you know if they want to come her fine but we're not going to give them city owned land to do it and city council needs to be sent a very strong message that city land is not for corporate or special interest giveaways,”
Rush said she loves soccer, but she just doesn’t want to see McKalla Place turned into a soccer stadium.
“People are suffering right now, not able to stay in the home they have and we need more places to house people,” Rush said.
Not everyone at the rally was in opposition, however. Andrew Urban with MLS in Austin said he thinks the city should take the offer.
“The city is taking advantage of a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring a major league sports franchise that fits the culture of Austin and utilize this land that has been sitting empty for years,” said Urban.
At the end of the day, some others think the city is still getting the short end of the stick.
“Austin is a wonderful city, love it but we have a habit of giving away the store to people who come in with big promises and I fear that this is just another one of those incidences,” said Guillot.
For now, all eyes are on the city council meeting on Thursday. There will be a vote on whether the city will move forward with the proposal or look into other options.