Columbus Crew: Austin MLS supporters prefer their own

Columbus Crew SC stays at home thanks to new owners. Austin soccer supporters insist they always wanted their own unique MLS team.

Rather than uproot the beloved Columbus Crew SC, they want Austin FC to be all theirs from day one. Not someone else’s.

The Supporters Group for Austin FC now brands itself Austin Anthem. It previously was called MLS in Austin. Their president is Josh Babetzki.

That doesn’t mean supporters have a smooth, clear path to Austin FC games at their planned McKalla Place pitch. Supporters have monitored efforts to interfere with the new MLS-class soccer stadium. Those questioning the efforts include interests from the nearby Formula 1 racetrack Circuit of the Americas.

The racetrack complex will include a soccer-specific stadium for Austin Bold FC, a team that begins USL play next year.

But the McKalla Place development had gotten a bit complex even before opposition made itself known. The Austin City Council earlier voted 7-4 to sew up acceptable plans for the soccer-centered complex. Also, they needed an agreement with Precourt Sports Ventures.

At that time, Precourt hoped to relocate Columbus Crew SC  to Austin, one of the most populous areas without a  top-tier pro sports team. Instead, Columbus has a new owner dedicated to leaving the team right at home.

And Precourt, as soon as the league makes it official, will create a new expansion team to make MLS fans’ dreams come true in Austin.

The most vocal among those supporters say that’s the best thing that could have happened for them.

The Austin Anthem group recently surpassed 1,000 members. They formed in 2013. They easily gather several hundred to appear at key City Council meetings. They can expect their numbers to grow now that they’re organizing to hold off their opposition.

The group’s primary mission is to keep Austin FC real and alive until MLS makes it official. And the players take the pitch at McKalla Place.

Had the Columbus Crew SC relocation deal stayed in play, it looked like the easy way to field an Austin MLS team. With that option off the table, it would seem those Texas supporters have a tougher route to realize their dream.

But that’s the way the most vocal of Austin soccer supporters want it. They won’t have what belonged to Columbus supporters. Or any other group.

From birth, they’ll have an Austin FC that always belonged completely to them. And thanks to Austin Anthem, the team already lives.