The Austin City Council halted debate over the proposed Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium after four hours and decided to call a special meeting for next Wednesday. Mayor Steve Adler promised an 11: 30 a.m. vote at that meeting to give the city and MLS clarity on where they are headed.
Last night, council members made 25 amendments to the updated terms of the agreement that city staff and the team had tentatively hashed out to bring a stadium to McKalla Place in North Austin last week. Just after 10 p.m., with another agenda item ahead of them before its self-imposed midnight deadline, Council decided to skim through the amendments and ask questions before the, ideally, final vote on Wednesday. With that in mind, Adler asked that all amendments that were presented be in their final form.
While Adler insisted that there were enough votes on the dais to approve the measure, District 10 Council Member Alison Alter called for more vetting of the proposed amendments.
“I resent the implication that we shouldn’t be able to make suggestions to get to the point that we could be able to approve it,” said Council Member Alison Alter. “It’s obvious that there is not a majority to approve it, as is, tonight. So, we can vote on it tonight and it will fail. Or we can try to make it sufficiently better that enough people could support it."
Over the last few months, the debate has folded in larger issues facing Austin, such as affordable housing and transportation. Last night, that discussion also included gender equality. Alter sparred with PSV lobbyist Richard Suttle over whether the team would provide resources for a soccer academy for both boys and girls. The initial terms expressly said PSV would fund one for boys, but didn't mention a program for girls. (More on that debate at 1:40 in the audio below.)
There is, however, a possibility that last night's delay could be for nothing.
Suttle said the team may not have that extra time. He said MLS already gave team owners a 40-day extension to get a stadium deal done. Though in a statement, PSV seemed to take the delay in stride, thanking Council, city staff and pro-MLS volunteers for their efforts.