Austin grew up Saturday night.

Professionally sports speaking, at least, Austin came of age.

This city has joined the ranks of Dallas and Houston and Los Angeles and New York City and all parts in between and finally has a pro major league sports franchise it can call its own.

Actually, it’s claimed that for more than two months now. Austin FC had already played eight matches, but all of them were on the road until this Major League Soccer expansion team in its infancy came home Saturday night.

And what a home it has.

Eye-popping, state-of-the-art Q2 Stadium hosted Austin FC for the first time against a gritty, physical San Jose Earthquakes club and quite frankly put on a show. This night was as important for what took place in the stands as much as on the beautiful, no-blade-out-of-place pitch.

Make no mistake, this was an event. A spectacle, in fact. The buzz was undeniable. This occasion took a page from Mardi Gras and offered everything from unique Austin food and music and entertainment and raw energy that never abated.

And it will be a happening place the remainder of this year. And maybe the next 25 years.

From the moment the Austin FC team arrived on two buses and was showered by confetti from members of the La Murga team band to co-owner Matthew McConaughey fully decked out in a green suit banging on the world’s largest bongo drum to the final seconds of yet another scoreless draw, it was clear this was no ordinary evening in Austin.

Yes, Austin FC failed to score once more. Hey, you can’t have it all.

“This should stand the test of time as one of the most important periods in Austin sports history,” team president Andy Loughnane said. “Staging the first-ever U.S. competition with the women’s national team on Wednesday and a world-class stadium and our first home match. It’s gone big time.”

It truly has.

Oh, Austin’s seen big events before.

It’s hosted the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play golf tournament for five years. The Legends of Golf at Onion Creek spawned the Senior PGA Tour. A Davis Cup was played here. The city’s more than had its share of big events.

Just as Memorial Stadium was christened on the Forty Acres in 1924, just as Cliff Gustafson’s Longhorn baseball team swept St. Mary’s in a February doubleheader in 1975 at plush, new Disch-Falk Field, same as the later-named Frank Erwin Center opened two years later in 1977 with a win over OU, so, too, was the unveiling of the breathtakingly beautiful Q2 Stadium a truly significant event in this city’s sports history.

“I always believed it would come,” Austin FC majority owner Anthony Precourt said Saturday afternoon after a celebratory dinner for 200 at Easy Tiger. “It’s proof positive dreams come true. We’ve had this vision for years, and it will be an amazing day.”

It was.

Louisa Flores proudly waved her homemade green-and-black flag as the 30-year-old former restaurant owner was so euphoric over the event that “I literally could cry.” Her friend, Luis Maldonado, destined for a spot in the supporters section, said, “It’s all just beautiful. The support is outrageous, the passion is here.”

Q2 Stadium was clearly a place to be seen. And to be heard. Trust me on that one. The packed house at the $260 million digs, more than 20,738-strong — and loud — swollen with robust pride and unbridled enthusiasm, let its voices be heard as they raised their beers and their tacos and brisket sandwiches in salute to the first pro sports team to ever grace our city limits.

“It was amazing,” said midfielder Diego Fagundez, who came close with a header on a cross in the first half. “When I stepped out there, I got the chills. I’m sad we’re leaving with a tie, but this is just the beginning. We’re going to make this a fortress, and no one is going to want to play us here."

Everybody who was anybody was here, save our state’s governor, who was busy building a wall somewhere. McConaughey was on hand in one of the 27 luxury boxes. Gregg Berhalter, coach of the U.S. men’s national team, watched from Precourt’s box.

Chris Lehman of New Braunfels was very hard to miss with his wild green wig, complete with Elvis Presley sunglasses and green felt sideburns attached to the frames.

“Ever since I knew Austin or San Antonio looked like it was going to get a soccer team, I wanted to be involved,” said Lehman, a 38-year-old IT project manager at Texas State. “Justin (Brooks) and I are part of the Oak Army New Braunfels. We all are about bringing notoriety to the soccer team. Elvis would have been here tonight if he was alive. Actually I think he hangs out at Chuys.”

They flooded by the dozens into the Verde store, a two-story shop full of Austin FC merchandise from special T-shirts with artist renderings like Chris Rogers’ way cool artwork of an oak tree outlined by a spotlight to the best-selling $150 primary jerseys. Rogers also did the mural called “Whispers of the Heart,” which adorns the wall at the northeast gate.

Heck, you can even buy a Foosball table in Austin FC colors that Yeto will retrofit for you. Balls included. Every other person seemed to be wearing the green and black in some form.

They’ve been pouring into the store to buy gear since it opened its doors on April 1.

“It’s even succeeded our expectations,” said Meg Lindon, a New York transplant who is the senior marketing manager. “We average about 500 fans a day since we opened.”

There were food courts galore, none more popular than Valentina’s Tex-Mex BBQ where 42 patrons queued up two hours before the match.

Heck, there was even a small stand under the west side stands where you could sign up for post-match vaccinations on the pitch. What a full-service facility.

“We’ve longed believed Austin was the biggest untapped sports market in the country,” Precourt said. “Besides that, it’s the hottest sports market. The support has been beyond our wildest dreams, and this is just the beginning. We’re still growing the legend.”

This was every bit as big as the day Ricky Williams broke Tony Dorsett’s NCAA career rushing record with a 259-yard day, against the Aggies of all people. This one pushed the envelope and the decibel meter, not unlike the Iowa State football game in 2018 where Longhorn fans turned on their cell-phone flashlights and jammed to Journey’s “Can’t Stop Believin’.”

Saturday night rivaled so many of those electric nights at Royal-Memorial Field during a 30-game win streak and at Disch-Falk Field, including last weekend’s heart-pumping wins over South Florida to set the stage for Sunday night’s College World Series opener against Mississippi State.

But now the Longhorns have some competition. How stiff, we don’t yet know.

Not a rival for history and tradition. Austin FC has a long ways to go to approach that status.

But in terms of the entertainment dollar and and a cool vibe moving forward, Austin FC is well on its way.

“I’m excited for the city of Austin,” Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte said Saturday from Omaha. “They are great partners for our city. It’s a big day tonight, but I don’t view them as competition. I view these things as additive for our great city. Besides, the main part of their season is in the summer. We’re in Texas, and it’s football season in the fall.”

Of course, a home stretch with 16 of Austin FC’s final 25 games might cut into football’s attention, especially if the club ever gets around to scoring another goal. It was shut out for the fifth time in nine matches but had a ton of opportunities.

“It wasn’t meant to be,” Austin FC coach Josh Wolff said. “But I think Q2 is exceptional. The fans, the community, the energy is all impressive. It reaches a lot of heights. This city has a fever for Austin FC.”

Austin and Austin FC became a lover of sorts Saturday night, locked in a passionate embrace that only figures to get stronger. And it’s a marriage of convenience for those who didn’t grow up in Central Texas and aren’t among the Longhorn fanbase with its 600,000 living alumni.

Not sure this is a union that will ever be broken up., but it’s in its initial stages of romance.

“UT is a long-standing institution in this community, and they are a remarkable community asset,” Loughnane said. “They operate one of the most successful institutions and athletic programs, and we admire all their strengths and accomplishments."

That said, Austin FC will draw some entertainment dollars and media attention away from Texas, which is just fine with many who emigrated here from other parts of the country and brought with them no allegiance to the burnt orange.

In some respects, Austin FC results may be far less critical to its success than the scoreboards at Longhorn stadiums are Texas’. You can market Bevo Boulevard only so much until fans clamor about beating the Sooners. With Austin FC, its fans are just experience a release of pent-up emotions after being starved for pro sports, and the initial expectations for the team are modest for a team that is 2-4-3 and heads to Minnesota for a Wednesday match.

On Friday, Austin FC was putting on the final touches Friday, schooling its almost 1,000 employees on the proper way to queue up a line into the stadium and checking every box. Always, lots to do.

“I’ve got a vacation slated for 2029,” the 47-year-old Loughnane said. “I’ve got my mind set on that.”

Until then, much to do.

You could see the sponsor signage everywhere you looked as more than 50 sponsors touted their approbation of the city’s new big deal. Some MLS teams might reach 20 if they’re lucky.

This is a franchise that sold 15,500 season tickets, starting in November of 2019 and going through the end of May. But a staggering number approaching 22,000 remain on a waiting list. That’s a paid waiting list. Each potential customer must put up an initial fee of $50.

As a point of reference, the dynamic Atlanta United FC, born seven years ago and already one of the standard-bearers in MLS, counted almost 25,000 seats under deposit in about three months time before its initial season tickets were actually put on sale.

Austin FC had 30,000 season ticket requests under deposits in a 24-hour span.

“We’ve seen a strong appetite for MLS in Austin,” Loughnane said.

I’ll say.

And Saturday was just a start.

Four of the next five matches will also be at the new holler house that is Q2, and it’s likely to become a place where memories will be made and where Austin just became a little more big-time.