Four Austin councilmembers seek to cut Crew subsidy by $37m

Four members of the Austin city council have proposed revised lease terms for a proposed MLS stadium for the relocated Columbus Crew, two days in advance of a council vote on the subject. The new terms:

• Raising the team’s rent from $412,500 a year for 20 years (present value: about $5 million) to $958,720 a year rising by 2% a year (present value: about $14 million).

• Annual payments equal to the rent, to go toward local school systems (present value: $14 million).

• Having team owner Anthony Precourt pay for the cost of a Capital Metro rail station, (estimated cost: $12 million).

• A $3 per ticket surcharge, of which one-third would go to various public needs (present value: depends on how many tickets are sold, but let’s guesstimate $200,000 a year, which would be worth a bit over $2 million total).

If I can do simple addition this early in the morning, that’s about $37 million worth of additional money that would be flowing from the soccer team owners to the public. That would still be significantly less than the more than $100 million in property taxes that the team is looking to dodge (again, in present value; the total nominal amount over 25 years is likely to be more than $250 million), but at least it would reduce the value of the tax break somewhat.

Unfortunately, if I’m also doing math right, those four councilmembers are a minority of the 11-member city council, so unless they can swing a couple more votes their way, this proposal isn’t going anywhere. We’ll find out tomorrow.

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