On The Move: Columbus Crew Plan New Home In Texas

Ben Anson

They come in all shapes and sizes owners; there’s one’s who are passionate about their club, those who inject billions into their teams and those who inject diddly squat into their sides. Some even carry wads of £50 notes after a successful night at the casino to a meeting about low pay to one of their businesses. But for Columbus Crew in the MLS they possess owners who have come up with the bright idea of moving his side an 18 hour car journey from Ohio to Texas.

It has been revealed in the news this week that owners of Columbus crew Precourt Sports Ventures are exploring the idea of moving their club from Columbus to Austin in an attempt to boost profits at the club. Anthony Precourt, chief executive officer of Precourt Sports Ventures and chairman of Columbus Crew SC, announced the following statement Tuesday:

“Despite our investments and efforts, the current course is not sustainable. This Club has ambition to be a standard bearer in MLS, therefore we have no choice but to expand and explore all of our options.

“This includes a possible move to Austin, which is the largest metropolitan area in North America without a major league sports franchise. Soccer is the world’s game, and with Austin’s growing presence as an international city, combined with its strong multicultural foundation, MLS in Austin could be an ideal fit.”

MLS Commissioner Don Garber added: “As attendance League-wide continues to grow on a record-setting pace, and markets across the country seek to join MLS, Columbus’ situation is particularly concerning,”

“Despite PSV’s significant investments and improvements on and off the field, Columbus Crew SC is near the bottom of the League in all business metrics and the Club’s stadium is no longer competitive with other venues across MLS.

“The League is very reluctant to allow teams to relocate, but based on these factors, we support PSV’s efforts to explore options outside of Columbus, including Austin, provided they find a suitable stadium location.”

Going into the final round of MLS fixtures and ahead of the playoffs, Crew’s attendance ranks 20th out of 22 teams. So you can’t blame an owner for wanting to boost his fanbase, but in this case it’s nothing more than a money making scheme, because of the ignorance of not knowing football clubs make you little profit.

Does Precourt care about Columbus crew? Unless it’s a numerical figure in association with the club he couldn’t care less about the consequences. For one, this news has come on the eve of the playoffs and will only hinder Columbus Crew’s chances of lifting the MLS Cup. What wonderful timing!

The three-time Supporters’ Shield winners and 2008 MLS Cup Champions, currently play in the oldest dedicated soccer stadium in the country. It may not be the most attractive stadium in world football but at the youthful age of 18 there is surely a better way to attract fans than new infrastructure.

Precourt purchased the team from Hunt Sports Group back in 2013 and reports have suggested that there had always been an intention to move from the new owners. Dispatch reported that the purchase agreement between the two stated that the club must be kept in Columbus for at least 10 years. So you would think Crew would be staying put until 2023? Oh that’s where you’re wrong. That sneaky Precourt included an out-clause that granted him the opportunity to move his club before 2023, as long as it was to Austin.

Alex Fischer, the president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, revealed to SI.com that the partnership attempted to buy half of the club to keep Crew in Columbus – that offer was quickly dismissed by Precourt.

“We met with ownership a month ago to discuss their stadium study and plans and ideas for a new stadium in Columbus. Those conversations turned up the fact that ownership had been in extensive conversations over the last number of months with leaders in Austin about a possible new stadium and moving the team there,” said Fischer.

This isn’t the first time Columbus Partnerships have been involved with the club. Last year, Precourt approached the partnership seeking help to secure a sponsor and they managed to partner Crew with a local jersey company. Imagine that, an owner and board who can’t even secure a single sponsor to an MLS side. When you have monkeys running a club of course the success isn’t going to be there!

A move to Austin would mean Columbus Crew would join Houston Dynamo and FC Dallas in Texas and leave Ohio without a single MLS team. It would also have consequences on the MLS conferences with 12 teams being based on the Western side of America and 11 on the Eastern. Would this mean a shift in the conferences? Or continuous dreaded journeys for Eastern conference teams to Austin?

Start the discussion

to comment