San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg hasn’t let go of his Major League Soccer dreams yet.
The San Antonio Business Journal reported Friday that Nirenberg is not giving up on bringing Major League Soccer to San Antonio.
Nirenberg said Friday that they’ll “play until the whistle blows.”
“The expansion process is over when the MLS says it’s over,” Nirenberg said in a statement to the Rivard Report. “Until then, we’re going to continue to demonstrate for the MLS and every other business and league in the world that investments in the future are best made in San Antonio, Texas.”
San Antonio was left out of the finalists considered for two Major League Soccer teams in November 2017. Last week, Austin City Council approved a deal to build a soccer stadium in North Austin, which clears the path to bring the MLS’ Columbus Crew to the city, the Austin American-Statesman reported. The franchise also chose a team name, Austin FC, on Wednesday.
Nirenberg’s optimism seems to run counter to Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff’s attitude toward the nation’s top pro soccer league. In October, Wolff asked District Attorney Nico LaHood to investigate whether MLS officials misled County officials when encouraging them to purchase Toyota Field. He said in a letter to MLS Commissioner Dan Garber that the only reason they purchased the field, now the home of United Soccer League franchise San Antonio FC, was to pursue MLS expansion in San Antonio.
Wolff told the San Antonio Express-News last week that Austin’s soccer stadium approval effectively ends San Antonio’s chances for a team.
“This kind of clears the soccer thing out of the way,” Wolff told the newspaper. “We don’t have to worry about that anymore. If people tell you we can still get one, don’t believe them. You wouldn’t even want one if you had to compete with an MLS team right down the street.”
Columbus also hasn’t given up on keeping its MLS team. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Columbus sued Crew-owner-operator Precourt Sports Ventures and MLS in March, claiming that the planned moved violates the so-called “Modell Law.” The law was named after Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell after he tried to move the NFL team to Baltimore. (He succeeded, but not until he agreed to pay Cleveland $12 million and the NFL gave the city a replacement football team, the current iteration of the Browns. Modell’s team became the Baltimore Ravens.)
The Modell law prohibits professional sports team owners who use “tax-supported” facilities and receive “financial assistance” from moving their teams without first obtaining the local government’s consent or giving local government at least six months’ notice of their departure, as well as allowing the government or anyone else who lives in the area the opportunity to buy the team.
A hearing for that lawsuit is set for Sept. 4.