Austin FC Announced as 27th MLS Club; Will Begin Play in 2021

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2019

FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2014, file photo, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber launches the league's new logo during a press conference  in New York. Garber said Tuesday, Dec 2, 2014, the league is not performing as hoped financially with the league and its franchises still losing more than $100 million combined annually.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber officially announced Austin FC as its 27th franchise Tuesday with the team expected to begin play during the 2021 MLS season. 

Kirk Bohls of The Statesman provided comments from Californian majority owner Anthony Precourt, who said the ownership group will soon include more local investors.

"We will shortly be announcing that we'll be welcoming in local Austin partners into our ownership group," Precourt said. "I've had very productive conversations over the last year, and we have very strong interest in a great lineup of local Austinites that will be part of this going forward."

MLS, which is set to contest the 2019 season with 24 clubs, will welcome teams from Nashville and Miami in 2020.

Jim Vertuno of the Associated Press reported Austin will provide land for Precourt to build a $225 million stadium with private funds.

Although there's a petition to force a voter referendum on whether the stadium should be built, Garber said the league is confident the deal will move forward, per Bohls.

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"We have faith in the mayor, we have faith in the city council and we have faith in the work that Anthony is going to do early on with his community benefits agreement," he said, per Bohls. "People here will see the value very quickly of having an MLS team. We'll support any democratic process, but we're here to stay."

Austin FC will become the third MLS club in Texas, joining FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo.

It's unclear whether the league will look to add a 28th team by 2021 in order to balance the Eastern and Western Conferences.

Bohls noted Garber said Precourt relinquished his stake in the Columbus Crew, which began with a 2013 investment, in order to become majority owner of the Austin franchise.

The Crew are now owned by group led by Dee and Jimmy Haslam, who also own the NFL's Cleveland Browns.