Already covered in a lush canopy of lush trees, the amount of greenery in Austin, TX increased exponentially ahead of Austin FC’s home opener on June 19.

An Austin FC flag flew proudly outside Bon Aire, specials on in-game food and drink were promoted at Cover 2, and the club’s green and black home kit was donned by many. countless runners along the Colorado River before the evening’s game. .

The 10th most populous city in the United States has long been awaiting its first professional sports franchise. You can tell the Austinites were green with envy when new Major League Soccer franchises popped up in Cincinnati, Miami and Nashville.

“This is meaningful for a community that has so many pent-up demands for major league sports,” said Austin FC President Andy Loughnane. “To be able to build a world-class stadium and present the very first major league team in town, I think for everyone who has been a part of this project, whether you are an early supporter of the club or you are a member from the staff, it was all an experience of a lifetime.

“Being able to start a major league team in any city is special, but being able to start a major league team in Austin, TX is more than amazing. “

Austin FC, which made their MLS debut on April 17, made their first eight road games before returning to the Texas capital to play the San Jose Earthquakes in front of a crowd of 20,738 spectators at Austin Q2 Stadium. , a company financed by private funds of 260 million dollars.

Before kick-off, Austin FC minority owner and Culture Minister Matthew McConaughey walked the pitch in an all-green suit with a drum in tow to further anger fans by chanting. “Listos! Green! “which echoed on the metal roof.

Fans then presented a brief history of Austin when he unveiled his first tifo featuring city legends Stevie Ray Vaughan, Raul Salinas, Barbara Jordan, Leslie Cochran, Willie Nelson and McConaughey.

As the game ended in a scoreless draw, it was still a milestone not only for the club, but for football in the city where “football” traditionally meant the Texas Longhorns or the Dallas Cowboys. to the north and the Houston Texans to the north. is.

“I think the fans, the community, the energy, the noise inside the stadium was awesome,” said Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff. “The [opposing] the players and the staff were extremely complementary to the whole project that we have here. Certainly the way we play, but also the way the game has been presented here, the support we have.

“I think he’s reaching a lot of heights and I think that’s something we should all be proud of. Everyone in this community should be proud of. This town has Austin FC fever, gaming fever and it’s amazing to see.

While Loughnane and his company are tasked with developing Austin FC’s brand and presence in the city, country and the world, another priority is to develop football culture in the state capital; Austin FC is working with its brands and partners, including Captain Morgan, Yeti, Q2 and Lexus, to achieve this.

Austin FC and Captain Morgan, a founding partner who also hosts the indoor-outdoor Captain Morgan Club at Q2 Stadium, announced in early June the Liga Verde, an amateur six-a-side league supplemented with live events to further promote and support the growth of the city. football culture.

“It’s not just about the big players at the club, it’s really about putting this city on the map in terms of football which is such a great opportunity for a city like this,” Sam said. Salameh, vice president of Captain Morgan. North America. “Football in this country is developing very quickly. There are a lot of people who get into the sport occasionally and want to dive into it more, and we want to be that bridge and allow people to really develop their love of football and their passion for the sport.

A study commissioned by the city in 2018 estimated that the Q2 stadium will generate more than $ 25 million in economic activity per year through the sale of food and drink and hotel stays.

The interest is certainly there locally, reaching a climax at the kickoff Saturday evening. There is currently a waiting list to be part of the Oak Collective, Austin FC’s seasonal membership.

Loughnane said there was an opportunity to increase attendance at Q2 Stadium by 1,500 seats, and that the property “will be looking seriously at that probably at the earliest for the 2023 season.” The potential offseason expansion would take around four months.

“Seeing Austin FC take the field on Saturday night was the culmination of many years of hard work by tens of thousands of people who came together in a way this community has never come together to be able to. form the project of a lifetime, “Loughnane said. “It’s a remarkable achievement in any city, but in Austin, Texas, the city that was the largest city in North America without a major league team, it’s a defining moment in a city whose the trajectory is up and a sport on the rise.