Most people in Austin would say that they’d like to have a professional team to root for in their city. After all, it’s one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. This makes for a prime location to put a franchise. The increasing population means more fans for the team, and with more fans, the financial possibilities are endless. Austin is the most populous city in America without a professional sports team. What’s preventing the city from joining the action?
The failure of the semi-professional soccer club, the Austin Aztex, is a major deterrent for future sports teams to come. The main reason the Aztex failed was because of the unexpected Memorial Day floods that forced a move from their home stadium, House Park, to a location further north that fans didn’t want to travel to. The MLS looks at what happened to the Aztex and shuns the city of Austin as a potential expansion franchise. The problem with that thinking is it goes against other facts related to Austin’s love of soccer. When it comes to the 2014 World Cup, Austin had the seventh most viewers in the nation. Every other city in front of them on that list has an MLS team already. An MLS franchise in Austin would have plenty of fans to root for a club.
One other possibility for an Austin expansion team is an MLB team.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred took the job a little more than a year ago. He stated in a press conference that he’s, “entertaining the idea of expanding the MLB from 30 to 32 teams,” adding one more team to the American League and one more to the National League. He said that behind Montreal, Austin was the second team on his list of expansion cities for the MLB. Baseball at a minor level is very popular here in Texas, so it’s possible an MLB squad would be well supported by fans.
One of the least likely, but still possible options for a franchise would be an NFL team located not in Austin, but San Antonio.
Even though San Antonio doesn’t have the biggest market, they have very loyal fans that would support an NFL franchise. There are plenty of Oakland fans in San Antonio, who have adopted the Raiders as their team, so it seems like a logical move. With Goldman Sachs backing out on a Las Vegas stadium deal, San Antonio is back in the picture for an NFL team. Rumors have been thrown around that the team’s owner, Mark Davis, bought land along Interstate 35 as a potential stadium site. Although most of this is speculation, it’s becoming increasingly likely that San Antonio will be a contender for an NFL team.
There is one major boundary in the way of the campaign for a team. There are some who don’t want a team in Austin. Many politicians in Texas are tied to UT and their athletics. They fear if Austin acquires a professional team, it will take away from the focus on collegiate athletics. Hopefully, this bump in the road will be averted soon enough.
It doesn’t look like Austin is going to get a professional sports team any time soon, but, despite this, many people are optimistic — including us — about the state of the situation. There has been a massive push in the right direction in the last few years. Youth soccer and baseball leagues have been constantly popping up, providing the people of Austin more reason to get involved in sports. The attitude of Austinites is shifting, and the push for a sports team is gaining momentum. We don’t think it will be too long before the dam breaks and Austin finally gets the coveted franchise that it needs.