Austin FC have taken another step toward their 2021 launch, announcing the construction of a $45-million, 23-acre training center for the first team and academy which will open in the Spring of 2021.
The St. David’s Performance Center — named for the health care system that became Austin FC’s first major corporate partner this past May — will be located at Parmer Pond in northeast Austin, about a 10-minute drive from the Austin FC stadium currently under construction.
The complex, located within the Austin city limits, will include four full-sized pitches, including three natural grass surfaces and one artificial turf surface with spectator stands seating 1000 fans. According to a release from the club, two of the grass pitches exclusively dedicated for the Austin FC first team will be configured as a “super-pitch,” with two surfaces combined to allow for greater levels of programming flexibility.
The training center, designed by the same Gensler firm overseeing the design of the club's new stadium, will also include a 30,000 square-foot building for players, coaches, and the St. David’s medical staffers who will work with the team.
“It’s a very significant piece of the puzzle,” Anthony Precourt, Austin FC’s CEO, told MLSsoccer.com. “Our Performance Center is almost as important as the stadium in terms of the club's overall success. It's a facility where our players and coaches will train and office six days a week, year-round.”
While it’s not likely for the site to be open in time for Austin FC’s first preseason camp in early 2021, Precourt believes that the complex will be open by the time the inaugural season is underway.
Precourt notes that while the privately-financed complex reflects the club's aspirations for long-term success, it’s also instrumental in another important element of the ramp-up plan to 2021: hiring Claudio Reyna as sporting director to join head coach Josh Wolff in building the first Austin FC roster.
Precourt said the 2020 summer transfer window is seen as “the logical time” to make an initial player signing.
In addition to housing the first team, the complex will be home to Austin FC’s burgeoning academy. Under the direction of Tyson Wahl, its U-14 team began play in August, and two more teams will slot in at the U-14 and U-17 level next year to join what will become the U-15s.
Precourt noted that while the front office looked throughout Central Texas for potential training center locations, the Parmer Pond location made sense for its proximity to the new stadium and the team’s current headquarters. He described the decision as a way to “build an ecosystem” for the club and allowing for a relatively easy commute (by Austin standards) between stadium and training grounds.
In creating the vision for the St. David’s Performance Center, Precourt said the front office used other MLS training sites as “benchmarks” to help inform their choices. “It seems like every day, there’s a new world-class facility being opened,” citing the just-opened Mercy Health Training Center for FC Cincinnati.
Precourt says that in preparation, front office representatives scouted training centers for a number of MLS teams, including the Portland Timbers, Atlanta United, LAFC, NYCFC, and the New York Red Bulls, in a quest to create what he calls “the best of the best.”
While much of the site will be exclusive to the first team and the academy, Austin FC anticipates fans coming out to academy matches played on the field featuring the grandstands. The complex will be nestled within a 300-acre mixed-use development featuring office buildings, entertainment and hospitality facilities, and public gathering places.