While a news story about a professional soccer team doesn’t really fit on a blog about alcoholic beverages, I’m including this story about the Austin Aztex that was originally written for CultureMap because the lack of beer sales at the team’s facilities had a financial impact on the team. It is another example of the importance of drink in our recreation.
Just as the Memorial Day Floods washed away House Park, the lack of a dedicated soccer stadium has washed away the 2016 Austin Aztex season. The United Soccer League (USL) has granted the club permission to sit out the season because it lacks a stadium that meets league standards.
If the team is able to secure a soccer-specific stadium in the next year, it intends to resume play in the 2017 season.
The team, which was promoted to the USL this year from the Premier Development League (PDL), was able to play the 2015 season on a one-year waiver from the USL allowing the club to land a soccer-specific stadium by the end of its first season. That wicked flooding on Memorial Day weekend severely damaged House Park, the club’s home stadium. The team was forced to move to a high school football stadium in Round Rock for the rest of the 2015 season.
The scramble to find a new home mid-season distracted the club from finding a permanent home for 2016; and playing on a high school football field just doesn’t cut it.
A statement issued by the team said in part that the facilities in Austin and Round Rock “have not proven to be economically viable solutions for our professional team.” “This soccer city deserves a proper venue free of football lines, with amazing sightlines, and where a cold beer can be served on a hot summer night.”
Club executives will spend the next year working to find a venue worthy of professional soccer. They feel strongly that Austin is a soccer city with the right demographics and enough fan to support a professional team.
In the meantime, Aztex players are busily looking for new teams for the 2016 season. As soon as the season ended, some Aztex players went out on trial with other clubs. Aztex forward Kris Tyrpak has already signed with the San Antonio Scorpions. The Dripping Springs native, former Major League Soccer (MLS), and Austin Aztex star wowed fans with nine goals and two assists for the Aztex this season. We will likely see more Aztex players sign with other clubs in the near future.
A rallying cry for a return
“By taking the year off from playing, we will have the time necessary to work with all interested parties to secure a professional soccer-friendly stadium to ensure the long-term viability of the Austin Aztex,” Aztex CEO Rene van de Zande said.
“It will be important to have the support of the community in these efforts. We encourage all Austinites to visit www.StadiumForAustin.com and register with the site so that as a community, we can make this stadium happen.”
Fans have a lot to cheer for with the return in 2017. The caliber of USL play is explosive and exciting to watch. The Aztex lured MLS teams to Austin for a preseason tournament and beat the MLS Houston Dynamo in a separate preseason match. The club finished the 2015 season in ninth place in the 12-team Western Conference with a record of 10 wins 15 losses and three ties.
Disclaimer: I am a fan of the Austin Aztex, have attended many games on my own dime and received a media pass for the last home game to shoot photos for this story. I received no other compensation from the team.