Mon September 26, 2011
Minor League Soccer Returns to Austin
In 2008 a United Soccer League franchise opened up shop in Austin. Central Texas soccer fans rejoiced.
With a catchy name and the goal of growing a loyal following, the "Austin Aztex" competed for two years. As soccer fever reached a high point during the 2010 World Cup, they announced a burst of interest in the team and growing attendance at local games. Four months later they announced something else: the Austin Aztex were packing up and moving to Florida.
Central Texas soccer fans ceased rejoicing.
That is, until now. The Aztex are returning to Austin. In a press release posted on their website, one of the team's original organizers, David Markley, announced the launch of a new franchise with the same name and a "rebranded" image. The new Aztex will begin as an amateur team in the United Soccer League [just like the old team did] with the aim of becoming a professional team in the USL [like the old team].
It remains to be seen whether the new team will be able to overcome the funding barriers that, in the long term, forced the old team to depart. At the time the old Aztex left for Florida, then-president Phil Rawlins said the move was made at the behest of UK-based investors.
“[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 newUSL-ProLeague. In short, they didn’t see Central Texas as the right market for the team and their future plans.”
The new Austin Aztex will begin competing in the United Soccer League's 2012 season starting next April.