After a three-year hiatus following severe stadium damage from floods in late 2015, the USL is set to return to Austin, Texas.
On Wednesday, the league announced the return of its Austin franchise after a three-year wait due to stadium damage during the 2015 Memorial Day floods. The revived team will kick off in 2019, with plans in place to play at The Circuit of the Americas in a soccer-specific stadium currently utilized by an FC Barcelona training academy. It was also announced that the chairman of The Circuit, Bobby Epstein, would join the organization as majority owner of the team.
“The USL’s return to Austin is a major moment for the league as it continues to lead the growth of professional soccer across the country,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “We could not be happier to be doing so with Bobby Epstein as the new leader of the organization’s ownership group. His work alongside the league’s leadership over the past two years to ensure professional soccer’s long-term stability in an outstanding city with a passionate fanbase has been exceptional, and we are delighted that this day has arrived.
“We have worked diligently with Austin’s ownership group to secure a permanent home for a USL club, and are pleased to have arrived at a great solution that will ensure the long-term success of the franchise,” USL President Jake Edwards added. “The Circuit of The Americas is an outstanding venue that has been home to world-class events for a number of years. We’re excited to work with a Bobby and his strong local ownership group as the USL returns to Austin for the 2019 season.”
The USL last played in Austin during the 2015 season, when severe flooding forced the Austin Aztex out of their home of House Park and then played the remainder of that season at the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex. However, due to neither facility meeting league standards, and difficulties in securing a stadium that did, the team went on hiatus until the issue could be resolved.
Now, with a new home and new ownership, the USL’s Austin franchise is set to return to a permanent stadium facility. The league announcement did not, however, include the team’s ‘Aztex’ moniker, leading to rumors of a re-brand alongside the team’s reinstatement.
“I’m excited to help bring professional soccer back to Austin and want to thank the USL for helping in the process to secure a suitable venue to host a high-level soccer experience for our fans,” Epstein said. “Preparations for kickoff in 2019 are already underway, and I look forward to revealing more information about the club in the coming future.”