AUSTIN – Last June, Austin FC set an MLS record with 30,000 season-ticket deposits within the first 24 hours of opening them to the public, a number that’s since grown to nearly 40,000. Now, in the first few weeks of converting those to season memberships, the front office is making steady progress in selling out a stadium that’s just starting to take physical shape.
At a fan event last week celebrating the one-year anniversary of Austin FC joining MLS, club president Andy Loughnane detailed the progress being made in ticket sales.
In total, the sales cover 6% of the 20,500 fans expected to fill the stadium when it opens for Austin FC’s inaugural season in 2021. But with the highest-dollar tickets selling out quickly, and with 75 percent of the stadium season tickets priced at $48 a match or less, Loughnane feels optimistic about the club’s prospects for filling the stadium with fans.
“The trajectory of the sales has once again validated Austin’s love of major league sports,” Loughnane told MLSsoccer.com at The Rustic Tap, the same bar where Austin FC made its MLS franchise status official last January. “The last 12 months have produced so much positivity. We are incredibly fortunate that there has been so much support for the team. Perhaps our early success has exceeded the marketplace’s expectations and the national audience’s expectations.”
“We are moving through the stadium, seating category by seating category, and offering locations in the order in which deposits were placed while maintaining the integrity of the deposit process,” said Clark Beacom, the club’s chief revenue officer. “We are going to use the time we have to ensure that season ticket members find what’s right for them."
Loughnane noted that a good deal of the optimism from Austin FC’s ramp-up has come from corporate partnerships the club has forged. The highest-profile one so far, St. David’s HealthCare, got involved in Wednesday’s birthday festivities by celebrating other birthdays. Head coach Josh Wolff and sporting director Claudio Reyna, settling into their new roles with the club, joined Loughnane in delivering team-branded blankets to newborns and their families at three Austin-area St. David’s hospitals.
The team will also break ground on their St. David’s Performance Center, a projected $45 million training facility in North Austin, during the second quarter of 2020, with a goal of being open next spring.
While the club hasn’t announced a stadium sponsor or a jersey sponsor, they’ve indicated one of those major partners will be revealed before the end of the first quarter. The club’s ramp-up over the next year will also include ample hiring. While a scouting team is the priority, they’re also making plans for inventive ways to introduce eventual Designated Players.
Loughnane noted that Austin FC's launch has moved “at an incredible pace, maybe even faster than one would have expected,” he’s excited about the next chapters of franchise building.
“There's a significant amount of pent-up demand for major league sports in Austin, a significant amount of love for soccer, and there's incredible culture,” he beamed. “A life in Austin is an incredible life.”