Columbus, Ohio (November 21, 2018) — The next step in ensuring Columbus Crew SC stays put took place on Wednesday.
It has to do with the actual sale price that the new ownership group will pay to take control of the club. According to a report from Forbes, that number is $150 million. The publication cited a source with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity.
— Forbes (@Forbes) November 21, 2018
Report: Columbus Crew SC Sale Price Expected to Be $150 Million
The prospective new owners consist of the Columbus Partnership, another group of local investors that includes Pete Edwards, Jr., as well as Dee and Jimmy Haslam who own the NFL’s Cleveland Browns. Along with the above fee, the ownership group will pour in an additional $150 million towards the construction of a new $250 million soccer-specific stadium in downtown Columbus. The final $100 million will be taxpayer-funded.
Under the deal, current Crew owner Anthony Precourt will still get his wish to operate an MLS club in Austin, TX. The Forbes story indicated that the above sum will essentially be an expansion fee, even though the new owners will keep the club in its current form. Consequently, Precourt won’t pay a fee but will essentially start an expansion team. It will begin play once a new stadium in Austin is completed which is expected to be in 2021.
Austin is the largest metropolitan area in the United States that doesn’t have a major professional sports franchise.
Crew SC is one of MLS’ 10 charter members. Forbes recently valued the club at $160 million which ranks 22nd among the league’s 23 existing teams. The club finished last in attendance, in large part due to the uncertainty surrounding the team’s future. Precourt’s original announcement of his intentions to move the team to Austin sparked a grassroots movement that ultimately precipitated the materialization of a local ownership group.
Further talks on the matter are expected to take place at the MLS Board of Governors meeting on December 13th in New York City.