After playing the opening two months of its inaugural Major League Soccer (MLS) season on the road, Austin FC opened up their new Q2 Stadium at the weekend in front of a sell-out crowd of 20,738.
Austin played their first eight matches away from home, and while Saturday’s debut outing at Q2 Stadium ended in a goalless draw against the San Jose Earthquakes, the home fans ensured it was a raucous homecoming.
Ahead of kick-off, supporters unveiled their first tifo featuring a host of Austin legends such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Matthew McConaughey, Raul Salinas, Barbara Jordan, Leslie Cochran and Willie Nelson.
Actor McConaughey is a minority owner of the club, and also serves as its ‘Minister of Culture’. Before the game, he also sought to ramp up the atmosphere. Leading a cheerleading session with fans behind the goal, McConaughey took to the pitch in a luminous green suit and a bongo drum, referencing his infamous 1999 arrest for disturbing the peace while playing the same instrument naked in the early hours at his Austin home.
Following the game, Austin FC coach Josh Wolff said: “I think Q2 is exceptional. I think the fans, the community, the energy, the noise inside the stadium is impressive. The (opposing) players and the staff were extremely complementary of the whole project that we have here. This city has the fever for Austin FC, has the fever for the game and it’s incredible to see.”
Saturday’s game was due to be Q2 Stadium’s opening event, only for the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) to claim that title. It was announced last month that the first match to be played at the $260m (£186.8m/€218.2m) privately-financed stadium would instead feature the USWNT, who defeated Nigeria 2-0 in a friendly game on June 16.
The Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) in April named Q2 Stadium as one of the nine US stadia that will host group, quarter-final and semi-final matches in the 2021 Gold Cup.
In January, financial solutions provider Q2 acquired naming rights to the stadium as part of a multi-year deal. Q2 Stadium was designed by architecture firm Gensler and has been built by Texas-based Austin Commercial. The stadium broke ground on September 9, 2019.
Image: Austin FC