Only two years after it was founded, the Austin Aztex soccer team is leaving Central Texas for the Sunshine State. Aztex president Phil Rawlins confirmed the move in a news released posted today on the team's website.
"We have been actively seeking to broaden the investment base for the Aztex for the past 12 months. It has proven extremely difficult given the economic climate," Aztex President Phil Rawlins said. "Our first and overriding preference was always to keep the Aztex in Austin. But after we exhausted all our options this has not proven possible."
Given Austin's preference for football of another kind, non-soccer fans might think no one was showing up to the games. But the Austinist reports otherwise:
[T]he Aztex won 15 games this season - 10 more than in 2009 - and led the USSF D-2 Pro League in scoring with 55 goals in 30 games. Austin advanced to the league playoffs before being eliminated by the Montreal Impact. Austin's home games were played at House Park, where in May they attracted the largest home crowd in franchise history (6,051).
But that wasn't enough for the owners to remain in Austin. Rawlins, in his news release, said the UK-led investors made it clear their money was hinged on the team moving to greener pastures.
“[T]hey made it very clear that their investment was contingent upon the team relocating, citing Austin’s lack of a soccer specific stadium with any corporate facilities, the inability to sell alcohol at games and the geographical isolation of the team within the new USL-Pro League. In short, they didn’t see Central Texas as the right market for the team and their future plans.”
The Austin Chronicle says the Aztex's departure leaves a recently inked three-year contract with Austin ISD in the air. The Aztex were leasing House Park from the school district.