Fresh off its 3-2 win in Washington, D.C., Austin FC will see a much closer foe this week. The team is preparing for an I-35 battle with its neighbors, San Antonio FC, in the U.S. Open Cup this Wednesday at San Antonio's Toyota Stadium.
The Lamar Hunt Open Cup, which is the longest-running soccer tournament in the United States, is a single-elimination tournament that pits teams in both professional and amateur leagues against one another.
It's the first tournament of its kind since 2019—and by the luck of the draw, Austin is facing its rival city in more ways than one on Wednesday.
A spurned San Antonio
I don't think you can count Austin FC vs San Antonio FC as "Just another game".— Colton McWilliams (@ColtonBMc) April 19, 2022
I think a lot folks here in San Antonio are still mad not just that they were passed up for the MLS bid but how they were passed up. It really rubbed folks the wrong way especially considering...
From tacos to sports teams, it's no secret that Austin and San Antonio have bickered over their reputation as Central Texas hubs since before South Congress was, well, South Congress.
And San Antonio and Austin were pitted against each other once again in Major League Soccer's search for a new soccer club.
According to a Texas Standard article, in 2015 Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff (aptly named, considering Austin FC's future head coach Josh Wolff) confidently announced the city and county's $19 million deal to buy Toyota Field and convert it to an MLS stadium.
“It will be a great benefit to all the citizens of our community as we move forward to bring Major League Soccer to San Antonio,” Wolff said.
Seven years later, and the stadium isn't home to an MLS franchise. Instead, that future team will enter Toyota Stadium as Austin FC, and San Antonio is still feeling like it got the short end of the deal.
Austin's first major league sports team has been the fruitful reward of a long-fought battle, and it's now enjoyed by thousands of fans across the city. But Austin never filed for an application to the league, and San Antonio did.
“Despite that, the league kept showing up here, and kept having conversations about their interest in being here,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said.
While it's hard to propose that Austin didn't deserve a professional sports team, or that Austin's ardent supporters shouldn't be wearing their team's Verde and Black, a San Antonio's spurned MLS deal may add an extra element of passion to the Open Cup match.
Still, many Central Texas futbol fans can agree that another MLS team would be welcomed by San Antonians and Austinites alike.
On the pitch
Saturday was monumental. 🌳 pic.twitter.com/cqnMhAW3Ff— Austin FC (@AustinFC) April 18, 2022
While this match won't count toward Austin's run for the playoffs, it will give bragging rights to whichever team is deemed the best in Central Texas.
As the Major League Soccer club in the equation, Austin FC has the advantage over San Antonio FC, which plays for the lower-division United Soccer League. The Verde and Black has found a fresh face after its first season, scoring three goals in ten minutes for a momentous D.C. United road win Saturday. Austin is currently second in the MLS West and has lost just one match this season.
Hot off of three straight wins, the near-undefeated San Antonio is currently third in the USL West and features a familiar face in former Austin FC forward (and former Austin resident) Kekuta Manneh.
Both clubs look to be in top form as they enter the third round of the Lamar U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday. The winner of the Interstate battle will enter the Round of 32 starting May 10-11 and join the winners of other Texas battles including FC Dallas vs. FC Tulsa and Houston Dynamo vs. Rio Grande Valley FC.
Tickets and tournament details
Want to attend the match? Tickets are going for as low as $24 for the match, which will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Toyota Stadium. Get those tickets here. If you can't make it in person, the match can be streamed live on ESPN+.
If Austin FC advances, it will continue on its journey to win the 2022 U.S. Open Cup. The stakes are higher than just a trophy: winners will also receive $300,000 in prize money, a berth into the continent-wide 2023 Concacaf Champions League.
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Flyers are less satisfied with the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport than a year ago, a new study shows.
Research firm J.D. Power placed ABIA at No. 15 on a list ranking overall customer satisfaction at large airports, a slip from last year’s spot at No. 7. Other Texas airports secured rankings ahead of Austin, with Dallas Love Field at third, Houston Hobby at eight, and San Antonio International Airport at ninth.
Dallas/Ft. Worth ranked eight in the "mega airport" category.
The study examined airports based on the following factors: terminal facilities; airport arrival/departure; baggage claim; security check; check-in/baggage check; and food, beverage and retail.
On a 1,000-point scale, Austin-Bergstrom received 785 points this year compared to its score of 819 in 2021.
Passenger experiences at Austin-Bergstrom have been influenced by population growth in Central Texas, which has brought record traffic and longer wait times at TSA. And a recent power outage at Austin-Bergstrom caused flight delays. Michael Taylor, travel intelligence lead at J.D. Power., said that consumer satisfaction with flying has decreased overall.
“The combination of pent-up demand for air travel, the nationwide labor shortage and steadily rising prices on everything from jet fuel to a bottle of water have created a scenario in which airports are extremely crowded and passengers are increasingly frustrated—and it is likely to continue through 2023,” Taylor said.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, commented on the ranking.
“We're grateful that AUS customers continue to rank our airport above average, especially during this year that saw air travel disruption here in Austin and across the globe as airports, airlines and the air travel industry continued navigating the impacts of the pandemic,” Grimmett said. “We look forward to delivering near-term and long-term improvements through our Journey With AUS program to improve the passenger experience.”
That program is slated to bring a new midfield concourse to increase gates and connect to the Barbara Jordan Terminal through an underground connector tunnel.
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By Jonathan Lee
The Planning Commission was split Tuesday on whether to help save an eclectic lakefront estate from demolition by zoning it historic amid concerns over tax breaks and the likelihood that a previous owner participated in segregation as a business owner.
The property in question, known as the Delisle House, is located at 2002 Scenic Drive in Tarrytown. The main house, with Spanish and Modern influences, was built in 1923 by Raymond Delisle, an optician. A Gothic Revival accessory apartment was built in 1946. The current owner applied to demolish the structures in order to build a new home.'
Historic preservationists, for their part, overwhelmingly support historic zoning, which would preserve the buildings in perpetuity. The Historic Landmark Commission unanimously voted to initiate historic zoning in July, citing architectural significance, landscape features and association to historic figures. City staffers recommend historic zoning, calling both structures one-of-a-kind examples of vernacular architecture.
Tarrytown neighbors have also banded together to stop the demolition. Many have written letters, and a few spoke at the meeting. “How could anyone buy this property with the intent of destroying it?” Ila Falvey said. “I think it’s an architectural treasure.”
Michael Whellan, an attorney representing the property owner, said that the claims made by preservationists are shaky. The buildings are run down, he said, and have had substantial renovations. A structural engineer hired by the owner said any attempt at preservation would involve tearing down and rebuilding – an undertaking Whellan said would likely cost millions.
Whellan also argued that any historical significance derived from the property’s association with Delisle and longtime owner C.H. Slator is dubious. “These men are not noted for any civic, philanthropic or historic impact,” he said.
What’s more, according to Whellan, Slator likely participated in segregation as the owner of the Tavern on North Lamar Boulevard between 1953 and 1960.
A city staffer, however, said she found no evidence to support the claim. “We would never landmark a property where a segregationist lived, or there was a racist person,” Kimberly Collins with the Historic Preservation Office said.
Commissioner Awais Azhar couldn’t support historic zoning in part due to lingering uncertainty about Slator. “Focusing on that factor is not here to disparage an individual or family. It is not about playing the race card. This is an important assertion for us to consider as Planning commissioners,” Azhar said.
Commissioner Carmen Llanes Pulido said that allegations of racism should come as no surprise. “We’re talking about white male property owners in the 1950s, in Austin, on the west side – and of course they were racist,” she said. But she argued that allowing the house to be demolished based on these grounds does nothing to help people of color who have been harmed by racism and segregation.
The question of tax breaks was also controversial. Michael Gaudini, representing the property owner, said that the tax breaks associated with historic zoning would exacerbate inequality by shifting property tax burdens to less affluent communities. City staffers estimate that the property, appraised at $3.5 million, would get either a $8,500 or $16,107 property tax break annually, depending on whether a homestead exemption is applied.
Commissioner Grayson Cox preferred the commission focus not on tax breaks but on whether the structures merit preservation. “To me, nothing in the historic preservation criteria lists, is this person deserving of a tax break or not?”
Azhar, on the other hand, said he plans to propose a code amendment getting rid of city property tax breaks for historic properties.
The commission fell one vote short of recommending historic zoning, with six commissioners in support and three opposed. Azhar and commissioners Claire Hempel and Greg Anderson voted against.
The odds of City Council zoning over an owner’s wishes are slim. Nine out of 11 members must vote in favor, and there have only been a handful of such cases over the past several decades.