Austin officials have started looking for sites for a new stadium if the Columbus Crew relocate as planned/threatened, and while they say they don’t want to spend public money on construction, delivering free land may or may not be another story:
Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo told the Austin Monitor on Sunday she is working with other City Council members to draft a resolution for the Nov. 9 meeting that would ask city staff to complete an inventory of available city-owned parcels, and conduct an analysis of the possible impacts of having a professional soccer team located in Austin. If that resolution passes, the reports would be due in December…
[Crew owner Anthony] Precourt and his business partners have said a piece of land 10 to 15 acres in size located close to downtown or in the urban core is the best scenario for attracting private investment for a new stadium. The going rate for those facilities is between $100 million and $150 million and Mayor Steve Adler and other Council members have said they would not support public financing for an MLS stadium in Austin.
“Some of the land that we look at may be parkland, and if that’s the case then we need to have a long talk about how it’s used,” Tovo said. “The use of parkland is an important consideration because we want to preserve as much public use as possible. When you talk about having a for-profit business involved, there would have to be extremely high public benefit as well.”
I would hope that “extremely high public benefit” would be defined as “enough rent on the city-owned property to allow us to build a new replacement park,” but there’s always the chance that that “possible impacts” part of the study will allow Precourt to point at all the increased economic activity that comes with a pro sports team (note: there is next to no measurably increased economic activity that comes with a pro sports team) to justify a land giveaway. Hopefully we’ll know more in December, including why Austin needs a permanent mayor pro tem when it already has a perfectly operational mayor.