Monday, September 26, 2011

Soccer Returns to Austin!

A happy day in the city the Free Beer Movement calls it’s HQ, Austin, will welcome a soccer team once again. It’s been nearly a year since the former club-that-shall-not-be-named skipped town in nearly the middle of the night and, well, as much as we try to push it into the dark recesses of our minds, it still haunts us…

The nightmare is over, however, as today it was announced the return of the Austin Aztex. Not the same Aztex that skipped town to Orlando for “greener” pastures, but a new incarnation. David Markley, a minority in the original AA, has taken the reigns and begun the process in bringing professional soccer back to Central Texas.

It was “bittersweet” to watch Orlando City Soccer Club capture the USL PRO Championship last month, said Markley, because “that celebration should’ve been in Austin.”

In a meeting of Eberly’s Army, Austin’s Soccer Supporters, Markley spoke that the Aztex will make it’s ATX return for the 2012 season. The team will debut in the United Soccer League’s Professional Development League with eyes towards a more prominent position in future seasons.

Commenting on the loss of the previous Aztex, Markley joked, in true Texas tradition, “If someone takes your cattle, you get them back.”

And so the Aztex will return to Austin. Although this name holds some bad memories for the passionate supporters of the former club, Markley said that the name still has massive “brand recognition” inside the Austin city limits. The name will help connect with casual fans that hardly knew the team left, create stability from one team to the next, and builds bridges in Austin’s soccer community.

“This is Austin’s team. One that recognizes Austin,” said Markley.

Markley was the original owner of a PDL team in Austin called the Stampede and when previous Aztex owner Phil Rawlins came in with a USL franchise in 2008, became minority owner in the team. When the Rawlins moved to Orlando Markley retained ownership in OCSC. He now owns the name rights to the new team in Austin. Markley stressed that this Aztex team will be here for a long time.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” said Markley. “This is the right team at the right time and the right ownership group.”

With the 2012 pre-season and regular season fast approaching the Aztex are moving forward with the search of a head coach for the PDL team (reports have a prominent local individual taking the reigns) and a home stadium (Markley indicated that the new Aztex home will be a familiar place) and tryouts in the spring. This is where Markley hoped that the Aztex would make it’s biggest impact and be “accessible to the local community.”

“We have tremendous talent in the Austin-area,” he said. “We can put a high-caliber product on the field. We should be ready to come of of the gates and complete in PDL.”

Markley stressed his willingness to work with ALL local youth clubs to make sure they all had a voice in the club and also made sure to emphasize that this incarnation of the Aztex will focus on outreach to the Latino community in Austin, something the previous club “failed” to make a strong connection to. Additionally, Markley said that the ultimate goal of the Aztex is to “endeavor to partner with the city to build a soccer-specific stadium.”

Eberly’s Army, Austin’s soccer supporters, get behind the new Aztex.
What does this mean for the Free Beer Movement?

Simply.. LIVE access to American soccer. Televised action of the “Beautiful Game” is all well and good, but nothing can replace the draw of sharing an authentic game experience with a soccer newbie. To have soccer back in Austin means that FBM HQ can reintroduce the city to this wonderful sport. We again have our laboratory to work on our thesis of the “free beer philosophy” that proves free beer works.

Nationally, fans are re-enforcing the “free beer philosophy” all the time, but it pains us to not to be able to practice what we preach and so Sunday’s announcement has us hoisting a pint in celebration. We’re looking forward to partnering with the Aztex organization and any other venues (local bars and breweries) to promote the American, LIVE and LOCAL game, through the power of beer.

The Free Beer Movement lives on in each and everyone of us and now we’re becoming a full partner in our own cause again!

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"Anyone who tells me soccer is boring, I'm going to punch them in the face."
– Former Dallas Burn (aka FC Dallas) coach Dave Dir

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