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Moving A Major League Soccer Team To Austin Could Disrupt San Antonio MLS Bid

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
The crest of the San Antonio Football Club. The team currently plays at Toyota Field at Thousand Oaks Rd. and Wurzbach Parkway. San Antonio is one of 12 potential cities for an MLS expansion.

The eyes of Major league Soccer fans in Texas are on Austin as the franchise team in Columbus, Ohio – The Columbus Crew - looks at potentially relocating to Austin The discussion has San Antonio leaders concerned the  move would impact the Alamo City’s bid for an MLS franchise.  There are currently 12 cities trying to be one of four soccer franchises.

If the Columbus Crew can’t get a new downtown stadium in Ohio the team's owner plans to move it to Austin. The relocation would cause disruption in San Antonio’s bid for a new team. San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg says  MLS officials have said there would not be two new teams in the San Antonio / Austin Area. He says he’s asking MLS for clarification.

“Our pursuit has been deliberate and will continue with regard to the site selection and the Spurs franchise. This is a relocation that Columbus has proposed so that’s a far different proposal,” he says.

San Antonio currently has a minor league team called the San Antonio Football Club in the United Soccer League - or USL. It’s owned by Spurs Sports and Entertainment. James Hope helps run the Crocketteers, a local soccer enthusiasts’ club. He says a San Antonio team would get a larger fan base.

“I don’t think we could see an Austin team get a large contingent of San Antonio fans or even South Texas fans traveling to Austin.”

Phil West is a soccer analyst and contributor to major league soccer’s website. He lives in Austin and Teaches at UT San Antonio.  He says while an MLS team in either city would be a win; with 12 potential cities trying to get new teams it’s not just San Antonio Vs Austin.

“It’s San Antonio vs. Sacramento which has been vying for this for years and has built up an incredible culture. It’s Cincinnati who’s averaging more than 20,000 fans in their USL stadium.”

Austin is not one of those 12 cities placing a bid.

No time frame was given when the Columbus crew would make a decision. Austin previously had two minor league teams that disbanded or moved. A third minor team will begin playing at the Circuit of the Americas in 2019. 

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules