Austin FC's long-awaited debut is finally in sight, Major League Soccer announced on Monday that the 2021 season will begin on April 3, with 34 matches for each of the league's 27 clubs.
The announcement applauded Austin FC's debut, along with its "new world-class stadium," which was named Q2 Stadium the same day. Preseason training will begin on Feb. 22 and the regular season ends on MLS Decision Day, Nov. 7.
📰 | @MLS today announced the 2021 season will begin on Saturday, April 3 and feature 34 matches for each of the league’s 27 clubs.— Austin FC (@Austin FC) 1611608003.0
With the addition of Austin FC, the 2021 season will feature 27 clubs, 14 in the Eastern Conference and 13 in the Western Conference.
Playoffs will begin on Nov. 19 until the MLS Cup game, scheduled for Dec. 11. Prior to the playoffs, MLS clubs also will participate in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Canadian Championship and Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League in 2021.
Keeping things COVID-friendly, players will be required to quarantine and conduct individual training upon returning to their clubs, in accordance with MLS health and safety protocols. Teams will be tested every other day, plus the day before matches during the regular season.
With travel restrictions still in effect between the U.S. and Canada, the MLS said it is in contact with its three Canadian clubs and will release more details about their involvement in the near future.
MLS said it plans to announce the full regular-season schedule in the coming weeks, but for now, here are the key dates to watch out for:
Feb. 22 MLS Preseason training begins (6 weeks)
- Players will observe a mandatory quarantine upon reporting
Apr. 3-4 MLS is Back - Opening Weekend 2021
Late August MLS Heineken® Rivalry Week
Late summer MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, Leagues Cup, Campeones Cup
Nov. 7 MLS Decision Day
Nov. 19 Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs begin
Dec. 11 2021 MLS Cup
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- San Marcos favorite Industry Burger opens "mid-October" on E. 5th, featuring "low key healthy" Texas fare.
- Still Austin Whiskey Co. introduces "The Artist," its new rye whiskey.
- Domain NORTHSIDE favorites Bakery Lorraine, Grimaldi's Pizzeria, Jeni's Ice Cream and Sprinkles released their fall flavors.
- Cinnaholic at The Arboretum opens Friday, October 14, serving "create your own" cinnamon rolls and other sweet treats.
- San Francisco's Marufuku Ramen opens next Wednesday, October 12, in the Mueller District.
- Carpenter Hotel announces its popup food truck, Lil Carpenter, open Fri-Sun both ACL weekends, serving what you want, early to late, coffee to donuts, to dogs/burgers/fries/beer.
With major entertainment events slated for October, the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is gearing up for a busy month.
Artists and music lovers are set to pack into Zilker Park for The Austin City Limits Music Festival in the coming two weekends. Following that, Formula One will bring racing fans to the Circuit of the Americas.
For those two events, the airport is anticipating high passenger days with 30,000 or more people departing flights.
ABIA recommends arriving at least two and a half hours in advance for domestic flights on those days. For ACL, it's expected on both Sundays of the festival along with the Monday and Tuesday after. The F1-driven high passenger days are expected on Oct. 20-21 and Oct. 23-26.
\u201c#AustinCityLimits visitors, you\u2019re in for a weird and wild ride \ud83e\udd18\u262e\ufe0f \n\nFlying in or out of our airport? We got firm and fun tips for you: https://t.co/RawVRalOXN\u201d— Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS) (@Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)) 1664894083
F1, especially, could draw in loads of travelers as the three-day event saw 400,000 attendees last year. ABIA warns that highways leading to the airport may see even higher traffic than usual around the event and that travelers should plan their route accordingly.
Bailey Grimmett, a spokesperson for ABIA, said travel numbers come in 24 hours in advance. So, it's hard to predict if the airport will see travel volumes at the same levels that have happened around previous F1 races or if it'll top ACL's flight traffic.
Still, she says historical knowledge points to a chance for it.
“We've had that Monday after F1 break the record for single busiest in airport history," Grimmett said. "So context clues I would say yes, but I can't confirm that. But the historical background points to that."
In anticipation of the high volume of flyers, the airport received additional TSA officers for security screening through the end of October. To prepare even further, the Department of Aviation and partners hosted a job showcase and hiring fair to address the continued labor shortage the airport has experienced.
Relief from hectic travel days is on the horizon with November likely to see a slowdown.
"I don't anticipate it will be as busy as October just because we don't have as many events going on," Grimmett said. "Thanksgiving is kind of our primary holiday that we see a lot of passengers coming in and out of the airport."