One from here, right in our town, the other from a latitude a further ways down
For anyone bemoaning the new but ”boring” Austin FC stadium name, I — of all people — would even tell you to lighten up. Watching games at the HEB Arena or Franklin’s Barbecue Field sounds adorable, but the rubber only meets the road once the check clears — and Q2 Holdings, Inc. was the business who ponied up.
I like the name: The Q2 Stadium. It’s simple and BOLD. Going to watch games ”at the Q” carries a nice, casual ring. And honestly, it could be so much worse.
Soccer fans in the Bronx are forced to attend games at a professional baseball field. Let that actually sink in for a minute. North of Manhattan, no soccer fan is concerned with stadium naming rights because there are none to speak of. They watch games through binoculars and thank the Yankees for their borrowed turf. I’ve watched games there — poor bastards. The whole ordeal feels terribly Bush League. Even if our sponsor lacks the brand sex-appeal some locals apparently crave, let’s count our blessings and thank Q2 for jumping at the opportunity.
Does our town only get behind local businesses if they’re a trendy food spot or a vegan, non-gmo, dairy-free record store? No, sir. While Austinites certainly enjoy expertly procured artisanal goods, many of us earn our livings in tech company cubicles just like those you would expect to find at the Q2 offices. These companies operate in the stratosphere of brands cash-rich enough to enter the pricey conversation of stadium naming rights. We’re lucky it was a local company who offered to sponsor our home and not some foreign car brand or energy beverage conglomerate.
Being able to reference McKalla Place by a proper name feels like another important domino in Austin FC’s materialization, but a few more things need to settle before we engage in full-fledged futbol viewing glory. I drive past the massive structure a few times a week, and the empty neon green seats serve as an undeniable reminder of the challenges ahead for our front office. Sure — tickets are sold out, but safe money tells us COVID won’t be wiped out overnight, even with a vaccine. So where does that put our attendance for Austin FC’s inaugural home game?
I’ve yet to see official word on this decision, which means the front office is still mulling over this terrible predicament. I’m sure they want to cash in on full stadium attendance, while not simultaneously hosting a virus super-spreading event. Currently, the state of Texas will allow sports venues to operate at 50% capacity. So as it stands today, half of us season ticket holders will be watching Austin FC’s first home game from our couches — not the bleachers.
While I agree with the logic of not piling every last ticket holder into our new home, I will be livid if I’m not selected in the lottery or whatever method they use to determine who is allowed through the turnstiles. 2020 and 2021 have left me desperate for reprieve, and I would be willing to do anything — unscrupulous and depraved things — to be the first person through the gates. If you know anyone at the Austin FC front office in the market for viable but “non-essential” organs from a healthy male in their thirties, have them shoot me a line. Serious inquires only.
Even if I’m reluctantly watching our innagural home game from my sofa with none of my internal organs harvested, my spirits should remain somewhat in tact as I’m convinced more every day that Austin FC could be a reasonably competitive in their first year. The blow of missing out on Austin’s home Major League Soccer debut would be crushing, but perhaps less devastating if the on-field product is quality. The addition of Tomas Pochettino helps to maintain this positive trend of thinking.
What I don’t know personally about the player is made up for by internet hype and overwhelmingly positive buzz around our second designated player. Tomas could be the midfield maestro that elevates players like Cecelio Dominguez, who contrastly received a hearty dose of sceptisim when he was first announced. Not the case with Tomas. No one is saying he is quite the second coming of the Messiah, but it feels like we’re getting someone of high quality to help kickstart the team.
Without checking, I have no doubt that every last Austin FC podcast in existence already has an episode posted where they dive deep into Tomas Pochettino and pretend to have the knowledge necessary to accurately determine a player’s true skill and subsequent impact. I could either join in on this mastabatory behavior or rely on the content of others to visually titalate you. Seeing as I try to remain most honest, I prefer the latter:
One more DP to go, and if Austin’s behavior around player acquisitions gives us any clues as to who it could be, all signs point to some guy we’ve never heard of before — and he’s definitely from South America.