Friday, November 10, 2017

#atxcouncil Greases Skids for Shady Real Estate Deal by Entitled Crony Capitalists (what else is new in this town?!?)....

"Dishonest scales are an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight."
Proverbs 11:1

Wait a second.  WHAT happened last night?!?  Via Deadspin:
While the Columbus Crew are gearing up for an Eastern Conference Finals matchup with the formidable Toronto FC, their carpetbagging owner Anthony Precourt is continuing his efforts to move the Crew out of Ohio and resettle them in Austin. Last night, the Austin city council voted to look into the viability of building an MLS stadium in the city, which is a boring way to say that they’re happily playing along with Precourt and seem to be serious about this whole MLS business. MLS czar Don Garber has been silent on the matter, even though all of it stands in direct contradiction with the supposed MLS expansion and franchising model. But that, I suppose, is business.

The entire matter still has months to go before it shakes out, and at this juncture it’s still entirely possible that Precourt is simply using Austin as leverage in order to extort Columbus for more public money. Either way, the battle for hearts and minds continues apace. Precourt hired an Austin-based PR firm to sell his plan to the public, which brings us to MLS2ATX, a grassroots organization billing itself as “a community of supporters working together to bring Major League Soccer to Austin, TX.” If you checked out their Facebook page, they might seem to be exactly that.

They are not. MLS2ATX is owned and operated by Precourt Sports Ventures, a fact which they don’t even try to hide. None of their tactics are, say, actively nefarious, it’s just that everything the Precourt group is doing to astroturf the everliving shit out of their move is tacky and cynical.
More from the Statesman:
The resolution, which Tovo’s office drafted, directs city staff to begin an analysis of city-owned land, including underutilized parkland, for possible location of an “urban core” stadium and a large training facility that could be located anywhere in the city.
At this point, an apology: We did not know this particular act of larceny was being fast tracked.  If we had, we would have been at Council yesterday.  Unfortunately, between the unlikely school bond results and the bombshell revelations at the legislature, Council fell off our radar screen.

So, we're sorry.

The spin coming out this morning is that any potential Major League Soccer stadium will be "privately financed."  That could be an improvement over how these deals have traditionally been done.  But just because there isn't a direct payment from the public purse does not mean there aren't other taxpayer financed subsidies.

Off the top of our head:

  • Would any land for a potential stadium site be sold to the team at full market value?!?  If the answer to the above question is yes, then what party would make that appraisal?!?
  • Would a potential stadium receive preferential tax treatment in the form of property tax abatements?!?
  • Tax increment financing?!?
Keep in mind, this is coming from the same people who are refusing to release details of their Amazon pitch to the public.

But here's the genuinely astounding thing about this entire discussion: WE ALREADY HAVE A 20,000 SEAT SOCCER STADIUM IN THE "URBAN CORE" OF AUSTIN.

So we already have a venue that would fulfill the stated needs.  Furthermore, the venue in question happens to be located in a super convenient location for most Austinites.  Furthermore still, the traffic in that part of town is already bad enough that adding the occasional soccer game to the mix would make any difference one way or the other.

The only thing that would need to transpire would be to have the team owner reach an agreement with the University of Texas (and we all know how the University of Texas likes to make money).

But no, we're going to give away valuable publicly owned land to a politically connected crony capitalist team owner to build a superfluous second stadium?!?

Makes total sense.

Bottom Line: Austin Texas already has a 20,000 seat soccer stadium in the urban core; we don't need a second.

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