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Austin FC, Matthew McConaughey dreaming big

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Austin FC, Matthew McConaughey dreaming big

A go to to SXSW about 10 years in the past, and a gathering, modified the trajectory of Main League Soccer’s make-up.

The customer? MLS commissioner Don Garber. Who was he assembly? The Mayor of Austin Steve Adler. Quick ahead to present day, the 2 are standing inside a model new $225 million stadium on 24 acres of land, reflecting on how their concept has blossomed into the twenty seventh franchise in MLS historical past.

Enter Austin FC, which will likely be enjoying its inaugural sport Saturday in Los Angeles.

As if navigating a pandemic didn’t already include sufficient hardships, think about attempting to get knowledgeable sports activities workforce up and working? It’s precisely what the Austin FC entrance workplace was tasked with as they stored the ship afloat whereas other expansion projects like Sacramento crumbled.

Proprietor Anthony Precourt initially tried to relocate the Columbus Crew to Austin in 2017, however after backlash and a brand new possession deal stored the Crew in Ohio, the Austin challenge started in earnest. Earlier than anybody concerned at Austin FC may even start to consider soccer, they’d to determine make an instantaneous splash that might resonate.

Enter Academy Award-winning actor and writer Matthew McConaughey, who in 2019 was introduced as part-owner and “Minister” of Tradition of the brand new workforce.

The Texas native had no hesitation when offered with the chance to be a part of the challenge he consistently refers to as a “legacy move” for him and his household. Married to a Brazilian spouse, soccer has develop into a part of his on a regular basis life, and his objective now could be to rally that very same ardour across the metropolis itself.

“Fresh, relentlessly optimistic city,” McConaughey mentioned. “It’s the world’s game, it’s coming here. We got people from all over the world in our city that have never had a team to root for that represented the city of Austin.”

Matthew McConaughey is the most recent celeb to get entangled in MLS possession and promotion. (Photograph by Rick Kern/Getty Pictures)

Together with being positioned in one of many fastest-growing cities in the US, Austin FC has offered 15,500 season tickets and has a waitlist numbering one other 15,000 already.

“Fits the brand of Major League Soccer: A city on the rise that marries perfectly with a league on the rise,” Garber mentioned. “It seems so perfect. It looks like Austin, it feels like Austin, it reflects the culture of the community.”

That group is embedded throughout the residence floor itself. Q2 Stadium was designed to emulate the out of doors areas within the downtown bars and streets, and it is positioned close to The Area, a retail and residential middle that is nonetheless comparatively new.

“If you take a snapshot from the sky [over Q2 Stadium] and you zoom in, you should be able to see in the crowd the diversity, the creative colors, the vibrancy that represent Austin,” McConaughey mentioned. “On any given night when you’re in that stadium, it should feel, smell and taste like the best of Austin, Texas.”

Austin FC gained’t get to expertise its residence setting till June 19 as stadium building finishes. MLS schedule-makers didn’t spare the newcomers any favors by pitting them towards star-studded LAFC on this weekend’s opener, to not point out 5 extra 2020 playoff groups within the following six matchweeks.

Garber sees parallels between Austin FC and different current growth golf equipment.

“I tell all new owners: It is very difficult to crack the code,” Garber mentioned. “We saw the challenges that Toronto had when they launched their team before they were able to achieve success, Orlando is another example of that. You have to expect that you just can’t come in here, snap your fingers and expect to be an MLS Cup champion. It’s a difficult league to be successful in.”

LAFC has been top-of-the-line current fashions of hit the bottom working and McConaughey, who has attended video games in L.A., has absorbed perception from that possession group.

It additionally helps that his good friend Will Ferrell is considered one of LAFC’s co-owners. In actual fact, McConaughey mentioned the 2 have engaged in “a war of words” over the opener and would possibly place a wager on it.

All that anticipation is now a number of days away from paying off.

“How much success can we have in Year 1? We’ll see,” McConaughey mentioned. “We’ve not built [Austin FC] in a day and we’re not going to be a fad. This is the beginning. The seed is planted to grow a big strong oak, a legend, and we have the long view here for what we’re building and going to become.”

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