Austin FC partners with UT students to help build experience, grow fan base

Raul Rodriguez

Major League Soccer team Austin FC and the University’s sport management program are partnering to allow students to gain experience while creating a presence for the team on campus.

The team, which is set to begin play in 2021, wanted to start the partnership because they are focused on expanding their fan base around campus, said Chris Quinn, vice president of business development and strategic partnerships at Austin FC. Quinn said students involved in the partnership will help the club by attending events, pitching ideas and brainstorming ways to attract new fans.

Matthew Bowers, assistant professor of instruction for kinesiology and health education, said he has worked closely with Austin FC and incorporates the needs of the franchise into his graduate marketing course’s curriculum. After starting the collaboration in fall of 2018, Bowers said the sport management department will continue to refine the program and provide students with different opportunities to get involved.

“At this stage, we have got a range ofopportunities, and those will continue to evolve because (Austin FC) are still a ways out from playing,” Bowers said. “We need some folks that can come and help learn how to do some data collection, go out into the field and go to sports bars.”

Sport management senior Xavi Acosta is a part of the launch team, and said he has used the internship to stay involved in the field as he continues his career. He said the students involved in the program make up part of Austin FC’s launch team, which goes to team-sponsored community events and creates email lists to help spread awareness for the team.

“Now that season tickets are being sold … Austin FC will hold camps for little kids, and we just help set up the tents, take out the waters (and) coach,” Acosta said

Quinn said students involved are able to speak with high-level professionals inside the Austin FC organization and build connections that will help them in their careers.

“We get a pipeline into the UT campus, and we have hired people out of that program,” Quinn said. ”We have hired UT students as our liaisons in the community from a grassroots perspective. We give students real life projects for real life scenarios that us as a startup organization encounter and deal with everyday.”