The owner of the Cleveland Browns and a group of investors have announced plans to buy the Columbus Crew SC. The groups says they want to keep the team in Columbus.
Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam and his business group, which includes Columbus’ Edwards family, led by long-time Crew team physician Peter Edwards Jr., will buy the team from owner Anthony Precourt, a year after he announced he wanted to move the team to Austin, Texas, according to a statement released by the Haslams on Twitter.
“We value and appreciate the benefits a professional sports franchise can bring to a community and are hopeful to be a part of the solution to keep the Crew in Columbus. We would invest in a strong infrastructure within the Crew organization so that we can continue our focus and commitment to building a winning Browns football team in Northeast Ohio. We look forward to seeing how this process evolves,” according to a statement from Dee Dee and Jimmy Haslam that was posted by the Browns on Twitter.
Haslam, who is also CEO of the Pilot Flying J truck stop chain, and the group of investors said they want to keep the team in central Ohio, but staying in Columbus was contingent on several factors.
“MLS, the Columbus Partnership and the investor group all agree that for the club to be successful it requires strong local owners, long-term corporate support, a strong season ticket base and long-term plans for a stadium, practice facilities and associated sites,” according to a statement released by MLS on Twitter.
“MLS is committed to keeping the Crew in Columbus should we continue to make progress on these critical components and agree to key terms with the investor group. MLS is recognizing the cooperation of Precourt Sports Ventures has demonstrated throughout the process to date.”
Mayor Andrew Ginther the announcement is great news for the city of Columbus.
“As I have said repeatedly, over the past year, the Crew SC belongs in Columbus. There are many details to work out, but I am grateful for the Columbus Partnership, Dee and Jimmy Haslam, Pete Edwards, Jr. and all of the loyal fans,” Ginther said in a statement on Twitter.
Last October, Precourt, CEO of Precourt Sports Ventures and chairman of Columbus Crew SC announced possible plans to move the team to Austin.
Austin City Council members voted 7-4 to approve building a new Major League Soccer stadium in August. The proposed plans was to build a stadium in partnership with Precourt Sports Ventures.
Prior to the meeting in Austin, a total of 19 backup amendments were added to the discussion. The amendments ranged from making sure the agreement includes youth programming commitments as well as giving the city the right to approve the annual list of proposed events aside from game days.
Since then, fans have organized the Save the Crew movement, which is a grassroots effort to keep the team in Columbus.
Officials in Ohio also worked to keep the Crew in Columbus, with Attorney General Mike DeWine and the City of Columbus filing a lawsuit in March against Precourt Sports Ventures.
The Crew has played in Columbus since MLS began in 1996.