Columbus Crew

Crew closer to leaving Columbus after Austin approves new MLS stadium deal

AUSTIN, TX (WCMH) -- The Columbus Crew is one step closer to moving to Texas.

On Wednesday, the Austin City Council voted 7-4 to approve building a new Major League Soccer stadium. The stadium will be built in partnership with Precourt Sports Ventures, who currently owns the Columbus Crew.

Prior to the meeting, a total of 19 backup amendments were added to the discussion. The amendments range 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.

RELATED: Owner of the Columbus Eagles weighs in on the Crew's potential move

Columbus hasn't been willing to give up its team without a fight. Fan groups have rallied support and a state lawsuit has been filed to block a move. They've even released renderings of a proposed new stadium in Columbus that would be located in the Arena District. The proposed stadium would be placed at the west end of Nationwide Boulevard and seat more than 25,000 soccer fans. It would include a soccer museum and more.

After the vote, a Save The Crew spokesperson released the following statement:

No matter what happens in Austin, TX,  the future of Columbus Crew SC will be determined in Columbus, where we have over 11,000 pledges for 2019 season tickets, a vision for a new downtown stadium a short walk from the Ohio Statehouse, and over 350 businesses of both local and national caliber ready to step in and support this team. The only thing missing is new, local ownership.

Columbus is a soccer community through and through, and we are eager to support this team, in this city, for generations to come. Glory to Columbus.

The following statement was released by Precourt Sports Ventures.

Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV) is extremely pleased that Austin City Council has voted to authorize negotiations and execution of agreements with PSV for a privately funded Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium and park at McKalla Place.

We wish to express our gratitude to the Austin City Council for passing today’s momentous resolutions. We thank council for acknowledging the groundswell of support to help bring MLS to Austin.

We have been incredibly honored to work alongside the growing community of volunteers, families, and supporters who have proudly persevered to make this historic vote possible. Your efforts have helped make a difference at each step of the pursuit and we wish to thank you very much for your support.

We also wish to extend our special thanks to Mayor Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Tovo and all council members for their ongoing leadership and vision, and to all city staff who have worked diligently with Council to prepare for the passage of today’s important resolutions.”

The team released a statement of his own:

Precourt Sports Ventures has been clear that identifying and working toward a solution for the sustainability and viability of this Club has not been merely an option or goal, but in fact a necessity to achieve long-term stability and success in Major League Soccer. As we have stated before, normal business operations continue in Columbus for 2018, and Crew SC remains focused on winning an MLS Cup title.

Mayor Ginther also weighed in on the situation.

Major League Soccer chose Columbus as the home of the Crew SC. We were the first city in the U.S. to build a soccer-specific stadium that hosted hundreds of games and international soccer competitions.

When MLS and PSV indicated they wanted a downtown sports stadium, we entered into negotiations in good faith, rallying private investors and public support – including commitments for 10,000 season ticket holders for 2019 - to develop a comprehensive stadium plan.

Unfortunately, MLS and PSV have not operated with the same intentions. The McKalla Place site proposal in Austin, for example, sits more than 10 miles from the city’s center – three times the distance between the Columbus Crew’s current stadium and downtown.

Clearly, the decision to move Crew SC to Austin was made long before today’s vote in Texas, with no consideration to the history of the team or the integrity of soccer in the U.S.

We will continue our fight to keep the Crew where it belongs – in Columbus. #glorytocolumbus

The Crew has played in Columbus since MLS began in 1996. MLS Commissioner Don Garber has said the league is reluctant to see one of the original franchises move, but he has backed Precourt's desire to look for a new home.


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