Charter Member team number one Columbus Crew SC looks to be no more. Last Word On Soccer learned Monday night owner Anthony Precourt is set to take the 2008 MLS Cup Champions down south to Austin, Texas by 2019 per Grant Wahl.
Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt is set to move team to Austin, Texas, in 2019 if downtown stadium can’t happen in Columbus. Story soon.
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) October 17, 2017
Columbus Crew SC Set To Move To Austin, Texas
What started out as a small rumor, was soon confirmed by multiple sources who are close to the club.
One source said that a deal to host home matches at the University of Texas is all but done for the 2019 season. They also stated that Precourt paid $68 million for the team in 2013.
Head of Columbus Partnership Alex Fischer spoke with the ownership of Crew SC. He soon told local news channels that “if the city’s efforts fail to keep them [Crew SC] here, all options will be on the table to work on finding another team to replace them.”
Fischer also told Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated that Precourt had rejected offers to buy 100 percent and 50 percent of the Crew by a group of local business and community leaders in Central Ohio.
“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 face 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,” Fischer went on to tell Wahl.
Precourt will be holding a press conference sometime Tuesday to announce the move.
However, sources close to the club who have chosen to speak off record to multiple media outlets have said that “conversations on the team staying in Columbus are not yet dead.” So there is still hope.
“It’s disappointing, on the eve of the playoffs, for the players and fans to have to face this news,” Fischer said in a statement to Michael Arace, a writer for the Columbus Dispatch. “We’ll keep supporting the players and hopefully see an MLS Cup.”
Why The Move?
Ever since PSV [Precourt Sports Ventures] took the reins from Hunt Sports Group just a few years ago, Precourt has been wanting to move the team from the current Ohio State Fairgrounds location. The main reason being lack of attendance. (Columbus is coupled with low ticket rates and average attendance in the league at 15k).
When the purchase was made from one ownership to the other, the agreement contained a promise to keep the team in Columbus for a minimum of 10 years.
The league, however, still plans to grow.
Just last year, MLS gained rights to two team names in Austin, though no specific soccer team was located in the area.
Columbus Crew SC is unbeaten in their last nine matches, with their recent result coming from a 1-0 win against Orlando City SC. The team has also clinched a spot in the 2017 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.