- Precourt Sports Ventures, the primary investor and operator of the new Major League Soccer franchise Austin FC, has chosen general contractor Austin Commercial as construction manager for the club’s new $240 million stadium in Austin, Texas. Gensler has signed on as lead architect and CAA Icon will be the project manager and Precourt’s representative.
- Crews will break ground on the 20,500-seat, open-air, multipurpose venue and accompanying soccer park in September, with completion scheduled in time for the team to start its 2021 season there. Precourt estimated that its total investment, which also includes a training facility and public amenities around the stadium, will be over $475 million. Officials said construction will create more than 1,500 jobs in Travis County and contribute $163 million to the local economy.
- Precourt is working with a local consultant to ensure minority- and woman-owned business participation. As part of a community benefits commitment, the firm will also build and refurbish youth soccer fields in Austin’s underserved areas and help address issues of affordable housing, equity, youth health and wellness.
True soccer-specific stadiums are a sports construction niche, as they have many unique features not present in other professional sports venues: standing-area-only sections for supporters and their signs; a seating bowl that is extra close to the field; aluminum seating that lets fans feel the noise from the crowd; and cantilevered roof overhangs to capture and amplify that noise.
The Austin FC stadium is likely to have modern tech amenities like Wi-Fi and distributed antenna system (DAS) capabilities as well. Professional sports teams welcome fans and their smartphones — targets for advertising during and after the game — and this technology allows attendees to maintain an internet connection while inside the venue and to access the services of multiple cellphone carriers. Teams also get extra exposure when fans share their game-day experiences via social media.
There are a few other U.S. soccer stadiums in the works, including a proposed $230 million venue in Columbus, Ohio. The new arena is part of a plan to keep the local MLS franchise in Columbus and includes an ancillary mixed-use development and training facility. All in all, city and county officials have estimated that the project would result in direct spending of more than $1 billion.
But not everyone is in love with the idea of a soccer stadium in their neighborhood. Developer Sterling Bay had to remove a planned soccer arena and an entertainment district from its $6 billion Lincoln Yards development proposal after Chicago residents protested its inclusion. Opponents of Sterling Bay’s original plan said it would add to the congestion and noise in the area.