Washington (AFP) – Austin FC was announced Tuesday as Major League Soccer’s 27th club, the first top-level sports team for the Texas capital debuting in 2021 in a new 20,000-seat stadium.
“We think we are the league for a new America and that America lives here in Austin,” MLS commissioner Don Garber told a crowd at the announcement ceremony.
“We need to be here because of what you are and I promise you it’s going to be great. Major League Soccer is a perfect fit for the city of Austin.
“We are so thrilled to welcome Austin FC and MLS’s 27th soccer team.”
Austin FC chairman Anthony Precourt donned his new MLS scarf for the green and black and joined the celebration.
“Core supporters, this day is for you,” he said. “This sight is so great my heart is about to explode. Austin FC is for all of you.”
Precourt had bought the Columbus Crew and planned to move the club to Austin before the league responded to Columbus supporter pleas and eventually made a deal to sell the Crew to a group including owners of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns and giving Precourt an expansion team in Austin, the 11th-largest US city.
“Our intent is to build a team that will be a perennial contender for MLS Cup,” Precourt said.
A new $225 million stadium will be funded by Precourt’s investment group with groundbreaking set for later this year.
“We are extremely proud to be the first major professional sports league to become part of the fabric of this important and thriving American city,” Garber said.
Austin FC becomes the 17th club to join MLS since 2005, with FC Cincinnati to debut later this year and new teams coming in Nashville and Miami, where former Los Angeles Galaxy star David Beckham is among the owners, also added in the past 13 months.
Austin will have instant rivalries with two other MLS clubs in Texas, the Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas.