Austin is ready for its Major League debut

Adam Humphrey

It’s apparent that Austin has an appetite for sports. Between the city’s minor league teams, major events and participation in niche leagues like ultimate frisbee and rugby Austinites have a minor league fix for just about every sport craving. It’s time for Austin to move up to the majors.

The city has grown tremendously over the past decade, and will continue to boom for years to come according to a study conducted by Urban Institute. Austin could see its population rise anywhere from 30 to 80 percent by 2030, more than just about any other metro area in the nation. This influx of population could bring in quite a number of new fans to a prospective franchise.

Major companies like Google and General Motors are also rolling into town en masse. These companies, as well as many homegrown startups like Indeed and HomeAway, could make a mark on the city with a key stadium sponsorship. Austin’s growth as a bustling hub for the tech industry creates the opportunity for a management strategy similar to the Golden State Warriors, where Silicon Valley venture capitalists apply their business mindsets to the team they manage. 

Austin already has a minor league team in just about every popular sport in America: The Austin Aztex for soccer, Austin Spurs for basketball, Texas Stars for hockey, and Round Rock Express for baseball. With community buy in and the right backers, one of these teams could make the jump. The Longhorns may not play on Sundays, but they consistently bring out thousands upon thousands of fans week after week. Austinites want to root for their home team, they just need one to start with. 

If one of these teams were to step up to the big leagues it would face a lot of competition close to home. Dallas and Houston already have professional franchises in each of the above sports (save a hockey team in Houston). The nearby San Antonio Spurs could make breaking into the basketball scene difficult if not almost impossible. These stiff competitors may make it difficult for a team to thrive in Austin.

However, should a team be able to gain a foothold in the city and its league the inter-city rivalries would burn hotter than before. San Antonio and Austin recently exchanged jabs over breakfast tacos, a staple food near and dear to Texans’ hearts. If we can get that worked up over tacos, the sports smack talk would flow naturally and the games would be intense.

In recent years the city has had a penchant for major sports events. The Circuit of the Americas F1 track opened in 2012, giving the sport a return to the U.S. after a five year hiatus. The X Games has also come to town for the past two years, but will be leaving after the summer 2016 games. The future of Austin’s spot on the Formula 1 circuit is also in question. The race has a slot on the 2016 circuit, but it “subject to agreement” with the promoter.

These fleeting events are nice, but they only come around once a year. Austin is growing rapidly each day, professional sports teams should take note and give the city its major league debut. 

Humphrey is a journalism senior from Round Rock. Follow him on Twitter @Humphrinator.