After months of writing about Austin FC's $260 million Q2 Stadium, Austonia finally got a sneak peek of what the facility will look like in time for the June 19 home opener.
Austin FC writer Claire Partain, senior producer Sonia Garcia and photo journalist Christa McWhirter put on our hard hats, grabbed a camera, and learned about all the details-from mesh stadium seats to the pitch's premium grass species. We made pit stops on the field, in the stands and in the press box. View highlights of the visit on Instagram here.
Here are some things to take away before seeing it for yourself:
When COVID rules are fully lifted, the Q2 Stadium can fill up to 20,500 people. Around 75% of seating will go to season ticket holders, while the rest will be allocated to regular-season single match ticket buyers.
Official COVID protocols have not been officially announced, but Austin FC President Andy Loughnane said that fans can expect a "large crowd" for the team's home opener. Stadium and team officials are going to continue to play it by ear as the pandemic continues to improve.
According to Loughnane, the stadium is on schedule to be completed—for the most part—by late March or early April. Some details, such as furniture and signage, may take a bit longer and will be filled in for the remainder of April and May, as well as some privately-run offsite traffic projects.
From the pitch
A team with a signature Verde color needs to go hand-in-hand with a bright green field. That's where Platinum TE Seashore Paspalum comes in: the species of grass carefully selected and shipped in from Arizona to become Austin FC's first-ever pitch. The grass, which has been used by other shaded open-air stadiums such as the Houston Astros, can be cut short and is durable and reliable. It's the first time the species has been used on an MLS field, and the club has plenty of staff and technology to keep it green and pristine.
While the white stripes had been on the field previously, according to Senior Public Relations Manager Mauricio Villarreal, the 115-yard pitch was missing its lines once again when we paid a visit. The benches for the players, located on the west side of the stadium, were still being worked on and covered.
Amenities: what is and isn't ready
While Austonia saw the field, the press box and part of the area's food and hospitality space, many features are still in progress.
Here's a list of things that are still in the works:
- The beer hall won't be open to the public, but we know that the facility will have 18 taps, 20 TV screens and be able to hold up to 400 people.
- The 5,000-square foot Verde Store, located underneath the beer hall on the north side, will be a one-stop shop for Verde merch and accessories. The store will be open even when matches aren't going on, with daily openings except for on major holidays. Another store, The ATXFC Shop, will be located on the other side of the stadium and will draw its inspiration from famous Austin record stores.
- We got a peek at the luxury suites in the building but weren't able to enter. While much of the furniture and amenities that will take the suites to the next level were not yet in place, we were able to see some built in benches in the air-conditioned spaces.
- The press box—more for us than for you—gives us a bird's eye view from the west side to make sure our coverage is as accurate as possible.
- The H-E-B Plaza, located outside of the stadium's northeast corner, will be home to iconic Austin food trucks.
- Austin FC's newest sponsor, Captain Morgan, will be the namesake for the east side's Captain Morgan Club, an entertainment and hospitality area.
Concerts and events at the live music capital
With Austin being Austin, it's no surprise that the stadium will also double as a concert and events venue. Rumor has it that some events may even take place before the team's home opener, but no official announcements have been made.
The south side of the stadium's seats will also be a stage. The iconic "ATX" seats can actually be split in half and pushed away to give way to a massive concert and event facility.
The seats, which are designed for standing only, will be home to Austin FC fan clubs including Austin Anthem, Los Verdes and La Murga de Austin. The murga, or band, is inspired by fan bands for teams in many Latin American countries and will keep spirits alive in the stadium throughout the game. Although it hasn't been tested out yet, the stadium was designed to make sure fans in all corners of the stadium can hear La Murga's steady drumbeats and chants.
Keeping it cool
Although the winter storm may have made us temporarily forget, a balmy Austin summer is ahead of us. Austin FC knows that keeping fans and players cool is a priority and have adjusted to the potentially oppressive Texas heat. The stadium has been built to bring wind in and keep a steady air flow throughout the stadium, and 6,000 total seats on the lower sections of the stadium are made of breathable mesh to minimize heat.
Air conditioned areas are located on the north and south sides of the stadium as well as suites on the west side.
As construction wraps up for the city's newest stadium, fans may actually be able to see the facility for themselves before the June 19 home opener. On Monday, Loughnane said that the club is looking to open up public tours in the next few months.
Austin FC will face its first-ever opponent in Los Angeles against LAFC on April 17 before they make it home for the first time to play the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, June 19.
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There are only two logical reasons for you to click on an article about Austin City Limits one week before the annual festival makes its grand return to Zilker Park: You’re either psyching yourself up for another whirlwind weekend, or you want to justify your decision for not snagging tickets.
Luckily, there’s something in this article for both parties.
This year’s ACL lineup delivers several heavy-hitting triumphs along with a few puzzling inclusions. One praiseworthy feature that immediately sticks out: There’s at least one woman occupying the top line of each day on the festival poster, and two on Friday (The Chicks, SZA) and Sunday (Kacey Musgraves and Paramore) apiece. It might not seem like much, but in an era where music festival lineups are still overwhelmingly male (and white), it’s a notable gesture that hopefully signals even greater diversity in future bookings.
Female headliners are also supplying the bulk of the star power this year. C3 Presents had their work cut out for them matching last year’s megawatt George Strait headlining performance, but they rose to the occasion with the savvy booking of the Chicks, who haven’t played a proper Austin show since 2016 at the Germania Insurance Amphitheater (they also dropped by the Moody Theater in 2018 to perform at Mack, Jack & McConaughey’s annual gala). And with Musgraves returning just three years after her last Zilker Park romp (admittedly a strange move), ACL further shores up its identity as a top-draw festival that’s more country-friendly than many of its contemporaries — this is the Lone Star State, after all.
Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of a solid rock lineup, which feels increasingly like an afterthought at ACL. Don’t get it twisted: Paramore are poised to make a triumphant ACL debut, and with a new song, “This Is Why,” out this week and an album of the same name coming in February (their first since 2017’s After Laughter), they’re a no-brainer booking. But it’s harder to get excited about their Sunday night counterparts, Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Sure, the veteran funk-punks recently reunited with classic-era guitarist John Frusciante and will be promoting two new albums, April’s Unlimited Love and the brand-new Return of the Dream Canteen, out Oct. 14. But the band headlined ACL just five years ago, and in a year featuring mammoth tours and residencies from Rage Against the Machine, My Chemical Romance, Elton John and Aerosmith (not to mention the Strokes, who just finished supporting RHCP on their U.S. stadium tour), the booking feels particularly uninspired.
You’ve got to squint awfully hard to find other bonafide rock bands on the undercard too. Stalwart emo and indie-rockers like Death Cab for Cutie, Spoon, the War on Drugs and Manchester Orchestra might scratch the itch for some, but they’re a far cry from Metallica’s thundering 2018 set or the back-to-back wallops of the Raconteurs and Guns N’ Roses in 2019. And if you’re thinking about stopping by Yungblud’s set to get your fix of snot-nosed, adolescent pop-punk — spare yourself the agony and head to the Torchy’s Tacos stand instead.
Enough bellyaching, though. ACL would be nothing without its pop and hip-hop bookings, and this year delivers in spades. SZA will make her ACL debut more than four years after her last Austin visit, when she co-headlined the Top Dawg Entertainment Championship Tour alongside Kendrick Lamar. The R&B star has come a long way since the release of her triple-platinum debut album CTRL in 2017, the same year she played her last proper Austin headlining gig at the comparatively puny Emo’s, which holds less than 2,000 people.
Yet even SZA’s star is dwarfed by Lil Nas X, the flamboyant pop-rap cowboy who parlayed his stratospheric “Old Town Road” success into a flourishing career. The 23-year-old TikTok savant has since scored two more No. 1 hits — the Jack Harlow-assisted “Industry Baby” and the sultry “Montero,” the title track off his 2021 debut album of the same name — and his ACL set is guaranteed to be both extravagant and hilarious. And festival-goers who want a bombastic, hit-filled throwback set need look no further than Pink, who’s racked up an astounding 14 Top 10 hits and dazzles in concert with her aerial acrobatics.
The rest of this year’s undercard offers plenty of highlights for fans of lighter, poppier and occasionally more reflective fare. Led by Michelle Zauner, Japanese Breakfast will captivate with their vivid storytelling and jubilant alt-pop. Culture Club, fronted by the legendary Boy George, will bring an arsenal of euphoric new wave hits in weekend 2, filling a similar role as Duran Duran last year. And pop-R&B singers Arlo Parks and Omar Apollo promise plenty of sultry hooks and good vibes.
As always, ACL attendees should make an effort to brave the early-afternoon sun and check out the treasure trove of local artists playing this year. Eric Tessmer blends incendiary blues-rock guitar playing with smart, anthemic hooks, while Pleasure Venom (who opened Bikini Kill’s sold-out Austin show in May) packs a furious, garage-punk punch. And on weekend 2, Flora & Fawna will hit the Miller Lite Stage with their explosive electro-pop confections, powered by Lili Hickman’s powerhouse vocals and tireless stage presence and anchored by Mason Ables’ deft guitar work and infectious production.
What are you waiting for, Austin? Festival season is upon us. Go bask in the glory of your favorite artists and find a few new ones in the process — just don’t expect to do much head-banging.
The new list is out from Forbes. Here are the Austin, or in some cases, Austin-ish, people on it:
1. Elon Musk, $251B, technology (various locations, primarily Austin)
16. Michael Dell, $50B, technology
86. Robert Smith, $8B, private equity (Vista Equity located here but he may reside in Florida)
99. Joe Gebbia, $7.6B, Airbnb
202. Tito Beveridge, $5B, beverages
234. Joe Liemandt, $4.5B, software
252. Thai Lee, $4.2B, IT
369. John Paul DeJoria, $2.9B, hair care, beverages
Click here to read the complete list on Forbes.