There have been plenty of causes for debate along the I-35 corridor between Austin and San Antonio, but this time around, the conversation revolves around soccer. After the owner of a major league soccer team in Ohio announced plans to move the team to Austin, San Antonio officials who have had their sights set on bringing an MLS team to their city were less than elated.
The owner of the Columbus Crew said recently he was considering moving the franchise to Texas’ capitol city. The news has prompted Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff to call for a formal investigation, claiming that the decision to choose Austin over San Antonio was not a “fair process” since the MLS had previously encouraged city and county officials to make preparations for an MLS team.
Texas Public Radio Reporter Joey Palacios says this particular feud dates as far back as 2013 when the MLS announced it was going to add four teams to the league. He says the City of San Antonio and Bexar County paid $9 million to build a soccer field on the northeast side of town on the advice of MLS officials in order to better their chances of winning the bid to bring one of the new teams to the city.
One city that did not make a similar bid, however, was Austin. County judge Wolff has said that if San Antonio officials had known Austin might get an MLS team, they may not have put as much investment. Palacios says the ordeal has left many city officials feeling misled.
“While MLS never made any promises, [San Antonio officials] were being encouraged to go through with this,” Palacios said.
Palacios says that Wolff’s request to investigate any evidence of any fraud isn’t necessarily about stopping the Columbus soccer club from moving to Austin. At this point, he says, the city just wants its money back, especially since the chances of another MLS team coming to San Antonio are now next to none.
“It’s not completely an absolutely impossible thing,” Palacios said, “but the likelihood of it happening is pretty slim.”
Written by Rachel Zein.