Professional soccer is returning to Austin.
A revamped United Soccer League franchise will play at a new stadium at the Circuit of the Americas in 2019, according to COTA and team co-owner Bobby Epstein.
Epstein says much of what will be the stadium is already up-and-running for races and concerts.
“We have a lot of seats there, and there are some that are very easy to reconfigure," he said. "On top of that, the restrooms and concession stands are already in place; they’re permanent. The parking’s there. So, it’s not a hard transition.”
Circuit of the Americas, primarily built for F1 racing, will build the full-sized soccer field in the middle of its concourse between the amphitheater and the main entry gates. The stadium will seat 5,000.
The Austin Aztex used to play in the United Soccer League, but suspended operations in 2015 after stadium-hopping around town because flooding damaged House Park.
The new team will not only have its own stadium, but the league will also have elevated status. This year, the USL was moved up to the second tier of American professional soccer by the U.S. Soccer Federation, one level below Major League Soccer. The league already features franchises in San Antonio and the Rio Grande Valley, as well as players from Austin, like Kris Tyrpak.
The name of the new team, along with coaches and staff, will be announced next year. The team will begin play in March 2019.
This is the second – though unrelated – soccer venture announced for Circuit of the Americas this year. The Spanish powerhouse FC Barcelona is opening a youth training facility at COTA and will begin its fall schedule this month. The new USL team will have no official affiliation with FC Barcelona.