What is the motivation for owners wanting to move their teams to a new city? What sick joy do they get from leaving an adoring fan base? These questions have been asked since the economic rise of the sports industry in the United States. And it has become a common trend where owners move their organizations to greener pastures in the hopes that smoother roads paved by tax incentives will get them what they want. This trend has now made its appearance in one of the youngest leagues in the country, Major League Soccer. The next team potentially on the relocation chopping block is Columbus Crew SC.
Why the Columbus Crew Are Important to MLS
The Crew are the first team in Major League Soccer starting back in 1996. Columbus is also the first professional soccer team in the country to have a soccer-specific facility, now MAPFRE Stadium, buit in 1999. Both the city and club shared the same dream as the league. The dream of making soccer a legitimate professional sport to rival other leagues in the United States.
The Crew and its stadium helped this dream turn into reality. They became the standard in the league. And it set a precedent for other teams on what it took establishing themselves and the league across this country.
As time went on and new teams were starting to enter the league, the caveat of a promise of a permanent home was considered to enter. With that caveat as the norm, stadiums are now more elaborate and big money was spent to make state of the art facilities.
Stadiums Main Factors in Relocation
Stadiums are a main deciding factor when it comes to why owners want to leave a city. As the other teams in the league begin to build new stadiums or refurbish their stadiums owners start to get anxious. They believe that their facilities are not up to par with the rest of the league. They use this for their argument on why attendance and performance of the team are down. The only solution to fix these problems is to have a better stadium that will put butts in seats and money in their pockets.
It’s a thought process that seems well-intentioned at the time until the numbers come out regarding the burden a new stadium or renovations will place on the supporters and taxpayers. A new stadium is not usually the catch-all answer for creating a successful sports franchise. They do not consider the different combination of factors that start from the ground up in order to create a successful franchise. Owners ignore these factors and look to the city to fix their impending issue of a new stadium.
Time Will Tell
Only time will tell regarding what happen to Columbus’ beloved MLS team. Currently, the Columbus Crew owner, Anthony Precourt, wants to move the team to Austin, TX for a new stadium and a better locale that would fit his own needs. The city, fans throughout the league, sponsors, and media have all made their voices of #SaveTheCrew known to the owner to keep the team in Columbus. As of now, the owner has seen possible locations for a team in Austin and given a proposal for a new stadium in the heart of Columbus. But it remains to be seen if he chooses to keep the first team in the MLS in its rightful home or choose to stay with the trend in moving to a new city.