(Austin FC)

Jeremiah Bentley is planning to purchase season tickets for Austin FC, the soccer team that will be the city's first major league sports franchise, despite the uncertainty that comes with a pandemic.

Bentley is a member of Austin Anthem, the team's official supporters group, whose members have access to a designated section in McKalla Place, the $260 million stadium under construction in North Austin.


The stadium went vertical in early February and work has continued, thanks to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's March 31 executive order deeming construction an essential service. It is expected to open early next year, ahead of Austin FC's inaugural season, which is still expected to begin in the spring.


Austin FC stadium McKalla Place, the $240 million stadium under construction in North Austin(Austonia staff)


"I've got my supporters-section deposit in, and I'm planning on buying three [sets of tickets], for me and my two sons," Bentley said.

Amid the havoc wreaked by the pandemic, some Austinites have found a bright spot in Austin FC. A poll of Austonia readers found nearly 70% believe the team's debut will continue as planned, and meanwhile future fans are making pilgrimages to the McKalla work site to see its progress.





"The club's fortunate—where we are in terms of timing—because you're still building the framework, you're still building the outside, so it's really easy to be able to do that socially distanced and safely," Bentley said.

Austin FC has not provided formal updates since mid-March, but its president, Andy Loughnane, reported to MLS that ticket sales were strong earlier this year.

When the team opened ticket sales to the public last June, it broke a league record for most deposits made in the first 24 hours: 30,000. Since then, sales have surpassed 40,000 deposits and the stadium's most expensive products—suites, field club and loges—have sold out entirely.

Ticket prices have not been announced, but local Austin FC blog Capital City Soccer compared prices from the league's newest clubs: FC Cincinnati, FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, Inter MIami CF and Nashville SC. Among those teams, supporters' season tickets went for $180-$425, with the high-end seats ranging from $1,400 to $4,100.

"It does not seem like interest has slowed down," Bentley said of what he's heard from other Anthem members. "I'm sure that there are individual people who are going to be affected by [the pandemic] that have to make changes because of their budget, but it doesn't seem to have had a significant effect on people's appetite for tickets."

Austin FC aerial The stadium went vertical in early February. (Austonia staff)


The next batch of tickets that will be made available to deposit holders are more affordable. The team has committed to selling 70% of stadium season tickets for $48 or less in an effort to make the games accessible for the wider Austin community, and supporter tickets are expected to be even less.

In the meantime, both Austin FC and Austin Anthem are planning for the year ahead.

Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said at a January press conference that the team would likely sign its first players this summer, though this is a process that may be delayed by the pandemic for leagues around the world.

Austin Anthem has paused its in-person events for the time being. But Bentley is optimistic. "It's been a good change to plan and develop a strategy about how to grow [the group] out because it has been going nonstop with things ever since the club got announced [in 2019]," he said. "So a little pause is not the worst thing in the world."

Anthem has around 2,000 members on its email list—but has room to grow. There are over 3,000 seats in the supporter section at McKalla Place. "We need to double in size between now and a year from now," Bentley said.

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct value for the stadium. The original version said it was $240 million; it is $260 million.

(Capital Metro)

Rendering, Project Connect station

The Austin City Council on Friday unanimously approved a measure to add to the November ballot the massive $7.1B "Project Connect," a 20-year overhaul of Austin's transit system that would include a new light rail and "rapid bus" lines.

The council plans to add it to the ballot in a formal order next week, members said. Then it's up to voters to decide whether to approve it.

Keep Reading Show less
(Tito's Handmade Vodka)

Sponsored by Tito's Handmade Vodka

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz Tito's Handmade Vodka
  • 4 oz root beer
  • 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
Directions: Pour Tito's Handmade Vodka into chilled mug. Top with root beer, add a scoop of ice cream and enjoy!
(Pexels)

Life was so sweet for live music junkies living in the Live Music Capital of the World—up until the venues closed, the stages went dark, and the world of Austin music closed down.

Miss your places? Miss your people? Miss blowing all your money on music?

Keep Reading Show less

The Austin Justice Coalition created a jingle—"No Confidence in You"—in service of its campaign to get Austin Police Department Chief Brian Manley to resign.

The Austin Justice Coalition is clearly frustrated with city leadership, which has not responded to its request to cut $100 million in funding from the Austin Police Department and remove Chief Brian Manley (or make him resign).

Keep Reading Show less

The Austin Independent School Board delayed the school year to Sept. 8 in an early-Friday vote, giving teachers three more weeks to prepare for online learning and the community more time to see a drop in COVID-19 cases before students, faculty and staff return to the classroom.

Keep Reading Show less
(Kevin Ludlow)

The petition, if validated and approved by voters this November, would have reinstated a city ban on public camping.

The group behind a petition to put a citywide public-camping ban on the November ballot in Austin said Thursday that they were "engaging a highly respected local Democratic litigator" in their efforts to fight a city ruling earlier in the week that their petition did not enough valid signatures.

Keep Reading Show less
(screenshots)

David Frost, 22, filmed Austin protester Justin Howell (left) being carried to medics after being shot in the head by an Austin police officer. Other officers then shot at the protesters as they approached, causing them to duck (right).

David Frost, 22, had never attended a protest before the Black Lives Matter demonstrations in May. Then the cell phone-wielding Austinite became a key player in a series of events that touched off major change in the Austin Police Department.

Keep Reading Show less