Austin sports fans are in the clear this weekend as Austin FC heads to Vancouver and Texas football plays at home, but this month they'll face a moral dilemma as they're forced to choose between Verde and burnt orange for the first time.
Austin FC, the newcomer that has quickly incited one of the most passionate fanbases in MLS, will play at home at the same time as tried-and-true Texas football for the first time at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept 18.
Some fans, like Austin FC season ticket holder Rod Mercado, will resort to desperate measures to catch a glimpse of both their favorite teams.
Rod Mercado (left) is a longtime Texas and Austin FC fan. (Rod Mercado/Twitter)
"Maybe I'll watch the Longhorn game on my phone while I'm sitting in my seats (at Q2)," Mercado said.
Others say conflicting times are no problem for the two different sports.
Easy—you watch the entire Austin FC match and afterwards catch the last 2 1/2 hours of the UT game on TV.
— shane (@_millimeter) August 25, 2021
But the fateful Sept. 18 time conflict is just one of the run-ins between the two teams that have never played in the same season. Austin FC has had the undivided attention of Austinites all summer as their first season rides into a time usually dedicated to all things Longhorns. Some wonder whether one team will suffer in the presence of the other, especially as Austin FC struggles to move up in the standings.
But Mercado, a Longhorn fan since graduating in 1995 and longtime Austin Anthem and Los Verdes member since its "MLS to Austin" days in 2017, said he and other dual fans are embracing a new favorite color combo: Verde and burnt orange. Just like Longhorn and Austin FC part-owner Matthew McConaughey, they say "the more, the merrier" when it comes to Austin sports culture.
"Texas athletics is the original game in town, but now we're no longer a little hip government, university town, man," McConaughey said at an Austin FC press conference in April. "We're a corporate town. We're a tech town. We're an international destination."
Dr. Matt Bowers, an associate professor for sports management at UT that has been following both teams, tends to agree.
"There's long been this assumption that the Longhorns have such a kind of stranglehold on the sports fan market in a place like Austin that it's too much to compete with," Bowers said. "I think Austin FC is showing that's absolutely not true."
(Q2/Twitter) (Bob Daemmrich)
He said that the Venn Diagram of Longhorns and Austin FC fans isn't a perfect circle. With Longhorns supported by alumni and longtime Austinites and Austin FC representing transplants and a younger audience, each serve different purposes to Austin sport goers.
Austin's sporting market is as "weird" as the rest of the city, according to Bowers, and the two might actually help boost each other as they appeal to slightly different audiences. But the teams still likely won't be collaborating anytime soon. Texas has successfully ingrained itself into what was once the largest market without a professional team, and Bowers said they're probably not looking to team up with smaller competitors.
Fans like Mercado hope to see their two teams work together in some way, from a "Longhorns Night" at Q2 Stadium to Verde and burnt orange merch. Many fans are looking forward to an all-day party when Texas plays OSU at home at noon on Oct. 16 and Austin FC follows at 8 p.m. that night, or when UT plays Baylor at noon in Waco before Austin FC heads to FC Dallas at 7 p.m Oct. 20.
If I were still in town, I have a Austin Fc season ticket so I'd go to that game bc Texas 🏈 is much more expensive. Yes I'd like to see a Longhorn night at Q2 and vice verse at DKR. On 10/20 I'd just make a marathon day out of it and try to get to both games 🐂 🧡🤍+ ⚽️💚 🖤
— Biden-Harris Won (@ATXChristina) August 25, 2021
But some Austin FC fans like Bryce Cathcart side with Texas in saying they don't want the two to mix.
"Not a UT fan but more than that I just think it would be in bad taste," Cathcart said. "Honestly I think the majority of the Austin FC fan base couldn't care less about UT. Let the two teams do their own thing."
Austin FC fan Bryce Cathcart said most Austin FC fans aren't interested in UT. (Bryce Cathcart)
While Bowers says fan attendance should be mostly unaffected as long as Austin FC stays in their honeymoon phase and the Longhorns maintain their grip on Austin, he's most curious about which team will win TV rights at sports bars across the city. Still, he says that both teams should come out pretty unscathed as their seasons come to an end.
"I don't think we'll leave this fall with anything other than optimism about what our sports fan market can support," Bowers said.
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If you are a committed, grunge-wearing resident of the Pacific Northwest, it is easy–almost automatic–to look at Texas as an extraordinarily dry, hot and culturally oppressive place that is better to avoid, especially in the summer. Our two granddaughters live with their parents in Portland.
Recently we decided to take the older girl, who is 15, to Dallas. Setting aside the summer heat, a Portlander can adjust to the vibes of Austin without effort. So let’s take Texas with all of its excesses straight up. Dallas, here we come.
Our 15-year-old granddaughter and her sister, 12, have spent summer weeks with us, usually separately so that we could better get to know each individually. In visits focused on Austin and Port Aransas, the girls seemed to be developing an affection for Texas.
Houston and Dallas are two great American cities, the 4th and 9th largest, each loaded with cultural treasures, each standing in glittering and starchy contrast to Austin’s more louche, T-shirts and shorts ways.
Three hours up I-35, Dallas loomed before us as a set of gray skyscrapers in a filmy haze, accessed only through a concrete mixmaster of freeways, ramps and exits. I drove with false confidence. Be calm, I said to myself, it will all end in 10 minutes under the hotel entrance canopy. And it did.
The pool at the Crescent Court Hotel in Dallas. (Crescent Court Hotel)
We stayed three nights at the Crescent Court Hotel ($622 a night for two queens), a high-end hotel in Uptown, patronized by women in white blazers, business people in suits, and tall, lean professional athletes, their shiny Escalades and Corvettes darting in and out, and other celebrities like Bill Barr, the former attorney general who shoe-horned his ample self into a Toyota.
Each morning as I walked to Whole Foods for a cappuccino, a fellow identified by a bellman as Billy the Oilman arrived in his Rolls Royce Phantom. Where does he park? “Wherever he wants to. He likes the Starbucks here.”
We garaged our more modest set of wheels for the visit. We were chauffeured for tips by Matt Cooney and Alfonza “The Rev” Scott in the hotel’s black Audi sedan. They drove us to museums, restaurants and past the enclaves of the rich and famous. In Highland Park, The Rev pointed out the homes of the Dallas Cowboys' Jerry Jones and Troy Aikman along with the family compound of the Hunts, oil and gas tycoons.
The Dallas Museum of Art’s “Cartier and Islam” exhibit (until Sept. 18) attracted an older crowd; the nearby Perot Museum of Nature and Science was a powerful whirlpool of kids’ groups ricocheting from the Tyrannosaurus Rex to the oil fracking exhibit. Watch your shins.
A Geogia O'Keeffe oil painting called "Ranchos Church, New Mexico" at the Amon Carter Museum of Modern Art. (Rich Oppel)
For us, the best museum was the Amon Carter Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth, a 50-minute, madcap drive away via a 75 mph toll lane along I-30. Don’t try it during rush hour. The Carter has an exquisite collection of Remington paintings and sculptures and an excellent array of 19th and 20th-century paintings as well. Pick one museum? The Amon Carter. Peaceful, beautiful, uncrowded, free admission and small enough to manage in two hours.
The Fort Worth Stockyards, a place of history (with a dab of schmaltz), fun and good shopping, filled one of our mornings. The 98 acres brand the city as Cowboy Town, with a rodeo and a twice-daily (11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.) cattle drive. We shopped for boots, drank coffee and watched the “herd” of 18 longhorns. So languid was their progress that if this were a real market drive the beef would have been very tough and leathery before it hit the steakhouse dinner plate.
The cattle drive at the Fort Worth Stockyards. (Rich Oppel)
But we could identify: the temperature was 97. “I saw a dog chasing a cat today,” said the emcee, deploying a very old joke. “It was so hot that both were walking.”
With limited time, we chose three very different restaurants:
- Nobu, in the Crescent Court Hotel; Jia, a modern Chinese restaurant in Highland Park; and Joe T. Garcia’s in Fort Worth. Nobu’s exotic Japanese menu set us back $480, with tip, for four (we had a guest), but it was worth it.
- Jia was an ordinary suburban strip mall restaurant, but with good food and a reasonable tab of $110 for four.
- Joe T.’s is an 85-year-old Fort Worth institution (think Matt’s El Rancho but larger), a fine Mexican restaurant where a meal with two drinks was $115.
Sushi at high-end restaurant Nobu. (Crescent Hotel)
It was all a splurge for a grandchild’s visit. Now we will get back to our ordinary road trips of Hampton Inns, where a room rate is closer to the Crescent Court’s overnight parking rate of $52. And to corner cafes in small towns.
Did Dallas change our 15-year-old’s view of Texas? “Yes. I think it’s a lot cooler than I did. The fashion, the food.” So, not only Austin is cool. Take Texas as a whole. It’s a big, complex, diverse and wonderful state.
Giga Texas, the massive Tesla factory in southeast Travis County is getting even bigger.
The company filed with the city of Austin this week to expand its headquarters with a new 500,000-square-foot building. The permit application notes “GA 2 and 3 expansion,” which indicates the company will make two general assembly lines in the building.
More details about the plans for the building are unclear. The gigafactory has been focused on Model Y production since it opened in April, but the company is also aiming for Cybertruck production to kick off in mid-2023.
While there is room for expansion on the 3.3 square miles of land Tesla has, this move comes after CEO Elon Musk’s recent comments about the state of the economy and its impact on Tesla.
In a May interview with Tesla Owners Silicon Valley, Musk said the gigafactories in Berlin and Austin are “gigantic money furnaces” and said Giga Texas had manufactured only a small number of cars.
And in June, Musk sent a company wide email saying Tesla will be reducing salaried headcount by 10%, then later tweeted salaried headcount should be fairly flat.
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