Tuesday, January 22, 2008

English club owner brings professional soccer to Austin, Texas

Austin, Texas is the home to the newest USL First-Division expansion team, the Austin Aztex. The new club will begin play in 2009 and is also owned by Phil Rawlins. Rawlins also owns Stoke City FC who play in the English Championship League. Not surprisingly, the two teams will work together as far as players are concerned. Also, Stoke City will hold their summer training camp in Austin.

Rawlins believes this is a great move as "Central Texas has long been a hot-bed of young soccer talent with over 35,000 kids playing the game locally."

Austin had an USL-PDL team, but they will now become the U-23 club for the Aztex.

Overall, this is an outstanding move by the USL. Austin is a large, second level market that is lacking in professional level sports. The team needs to figure out a stadium situation (the old PDL team played a distance away from the city center) and a few other issues, but if with the experience Rawlins brings, there is a great chance Austin could become a big USL town.

It will also be interesting to see if they try to have a 'Battle for Texas' during spring training. They could invite FC Dallas and the Houston Dynamo to town to see who is the best in the lone star state.

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Blogger ERic said...

"Austin is a large, second level market that is lacking in professional level sports."



Not that I'm not really excited about this. And hopeful (despite all the historic difficulties Austin USL teams have had with finding and keeping a home field).

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only a Brit could have come up with as horrible a name as Aztex.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Mike H said...

Okay, Eric you got me, however I don't really see Arena football as much of a sport and the baseball team is actually in the suburbs, but I guess these are all as pro as USL-1.

I guess I should have talked about it more in relation to the way the university (UT) dominates the local sports scene. And if I recall correctly, UT does not have a men's team, so there is an opening.

If they can come up with a better stadium situation, even with the name, I think they could be successful.

4:26 PM  
Blogger Mike H said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:26 PM  
Blogger ERic said...

You may not see arena football as much of a sport, but the AFL has an overall average attendance of 12,000. AFL2 only around 4700. Still the AFL is above the USL-1, and AFL 2 right in the USL-1 range. So while we may not consider it much of a sport, it matters a lot with plenty of sponsors that the Aztex will be competing for.

True that UT dominates. And it doesn't have a men's team. But the market is more likely going to be the non-UT people (of which there are quite a few now), and competing against the other pro teams in town.

All that aside, they could be successful.

But the name choice, to me, says a lot. It's a really dated name, and a really dated logo. Hopefully the business savvy of the owner will win out over these early mistakes.

Excited, but also holding my breath.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the:

Ice Bats-CHL

Wranglers- AF2

Toros- NBA D-League (Only legitimate feeder league other than the express)

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The name is horrible. And what experience does the Brit have? He has no soccer experience. He won the lotto and bought 10% interest in a team he grew up watching. Why do you thing he lives in Austin? Do you really think he can run Stoke better in Austin? Of course not, they sent him to Austin to stay the hell out of their buisness.

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's who they get to play and who looks after the team that counts - not who owns it.

10:56 AM  
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