Friday, December 8, 2017

#atxcouncil: City that already has soccer stadium considers building TWO more....

"Every prudent man acts with knowledge,
But a fool lays open his folly."
Proverbs 13:16

In Austin's quest to act as patsies for a San Francisco based crony capitalist looking to boost the value of his Ohio-based asset, it appears we're up to two soccer stadium proposals.

If Austin signs off on a privately financed stadium on city parkland near downtown, the owners of a Major League Soccer team see a facility that would have a small geographic footprint yet make a giant positive impact on the community.

Precourt Sports Ventures, which operates Columbus Crew SC and is exploring a move to Austin, told the American-Statesman on Tuesday that finding the right stadium site remains the critical piece of the puzzle and that Butler Shores Metropolitan Park is the spot to beat.

The group rolled out a preliminary rendering of a 20,000-seat stadium tightly tucked into the western half of well-worn Butler Shores, leaving some parkland to the east.


The Precourt group rattled off several ideas to ease the strain on the neighborhood, while presenting Austin with its first major league sports franchise in what they say would be a city-owned, club-run stadium costing upwards of $200 million.
East Side:
A small local group with a big vision and political backing has unveiled plans for a wide-ranging project called the East Austin District, highlighted by a large arena and a multipurpose stadium.

Austin Sports & Entertainment, co-founded by former University of Texas swimming star Sean Foley and New England sports entrepreneur Andrew Nestor, partnering with Rodeo Austin, intends to work with the city of Austin and Travis County governments to replace the Travis County Exposition Center with a 15,000-seat arena adjacent to a 40,000-seat open-air facility.


The complex, designed to include office space, a convention area, medical facilities, retail and eight courtyards, could house a wide variety of sports events, concerts, trade shows and festivals.


The arena would be the new home of an expanded Rodeo Austin, which owns 40 acres adjacent to the Expo Center and annually pulls approximately 260,000 people to the aging facility for its two-week March run. The project is slated to be built on that land, near Lake Walter E. Long.


[A] public-private partnership using city-owned land at the Expo Center, which is run by the county.
Thoughts off the top of our head:
  • The idea that, just because the physical construction is 'privately financed' it doesn't still contain massive public subsidies, is laughable.  At a minimum, the project developers are getting public land for free.  These proposals would be a lot easier to swallow if we were talking about selling the land.
  • Who will be responsible for the ongoing maintenance of a potential stadium: taxpayers or Anthony Precourt?!?
  • Downtown: The lack of on-site parking is the only meritorious part of the proposal; if that could be used as leverage to nuke parking requirements more generally, it might be an acceptable trade off.
  • Downtown: "a small geographic footprint yet make a giant positive impact on the community"... sounds like typical 'grandiose promises backed by vague buzzwords' that usually accompanies publicly subsidized construction projects.
  • Downtown: "tightly tucked"...did you focus group that alliteration?!?
  • Downtown: "city-owned, club-run" = Privatized profits with socialized losses...where have we seen that before?!?
  • East Side: If you take the stadium out of the equation, this project has a certain appeal.  Even if we find the "economic development" forecasts exaggerated, it would certainly attract capital to a part of town that needs it.  It would also take development pressure off of downtown.
  • East Side: That being said, the team seems pretty insistent on a downtown stadium, and building any sort of a stadium without a committed occupant is a fool's errand.
  • East Side: If we build an arena, will UT basketball move out there as well?!?  If not, how many nights a week/year will both this proposed East Side arena and the new UT arena sit empty?!?  Is there enough business to prevent two arenas from cannibalizing each other?!?
  • East Side: If we build significant convention space out there, then there's even less reason to expand the convention center downtown.
    • Note: If this project were accompanied by having the city sell the downtown convention center, it could dramatically increase its appeal.
  • What happens to Circuit of the Americas under either proposal?!?
    • Note: For personal reasons, we loathe Circuit of the Americas, so if either of these proposals could drive those scumbags out of business, we would consider that a plus.
  • Based on our experience working in the service industry, a venue needs to have 4 to 5 events per week to have any realistic chance of creating full time jobs.
  • During the 2019 legislative session, we're going to "have a conversation" about public subsidies for stadiums and arenas; does either proposal take into account that state law on this subject is likely to change in the near future?!?
  • As we pointed out less than a month ago, Austin already has a 20,000 seat soccer stadium.  Do we need a second?!?  Do we need a third?!?
  • How does the legal action proposed by Ohio's Attorney General impact the ability of a team to guarantee they'll be ready by 2019?!?
Finally, following last month's council discussion, we put an open records request into Kathie Tovo's office [note: Tovo carried the original resolution] for all correspondence between her office and the Columbus Crew; Austin's famously transparent municipal government produced the following document:

552.137 Notice by Cahnman on Scribd

Bottom Line: While the east side proposal has a certain amount of merit, putting it very politely, both of these proposals need significantly more work before they're workable.

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