January 15, 2019 / 11:01 PM / in a year

Soccer: Austin becomes latest MLS expansion team

Jan 15, 2019; Austin, TX, USA: From left, Austin mayor Steve Adler, Don Garber, Major League Soccer commissioner and Anthony Precourt, Chairman and CEO of Austin FC announce Austin FC as the newest MLS team at the Rustic Tap. Mandatory Credit: Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Major League Soccer will become the first major sports league to have a team in Austin after the Texas capital was unveiled as its latest expansion club on Tuesday.

The city, known more for its legendary live music scene than soccer, was named the North American league’s 27th franchise at a ceremony in an Austin pub with MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Austin Mayor Steve Adler in attendance.

Austin FC, which is the state capital’s first professional sports team, will begin playing in 2021 and becomes the third Texan city with an MLS team, joining Dallas and Houston.

“We can’t be more excited than to be in one of the most coolest, most creative and most passionate cities in the entire country,” said Garber.

The announcement comes about a month after plans to build a $225 million, 20,000-capacity stadium for an MLS team were approved by the city and its investor.

MLS expansion has seen the league grow in ways few could have imagined considering it began with 10 teams in 1996 and at one point faced concerns about its viability as a number of franchises went out of business.

But MLS is expanding to 24 teams for next season, which begins in March, with the addition of Cincinnati, followed by Miami and Nashville in 2020.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris

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