COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The owners of the Columbus Crew announced Tuesday they were looking into possibly moving the club to the city of Austin, Texas.
“Despite our investments and efforts, the current course is not sustainable,” Anthony Precourt, chief executive officer of Precourt Sports Ventures and chairman of Columbus Crew SC, said. “This Club has ambition to be a standard bearer in MLS, therefore we have no choice but to expand and explore all of our options. This includes a possible move to Austin, which is the largest metropolitan area in North America without a major league sports franchise. Soccer is the world’s game, and with Austin’s growing presence as an international city, combined with its strong multicultural foundation, MLS in Austin could be an ideal fit.”
During a news conference, Precourt said no relocation decision has been made at this point, and the company is not asking taxpayers to fund a new stadium.
Columbus Crew SC was the first charter granted in Major League Soccer (MLS) in 1996. Columbus Crew SC has recognized its growing disparity in attendance and corporate support compared to its MLS peers and other midsize markets, such as Kansas City, Orlando, Portland and Salt Lake City.
According to the release, Precourt Sports Ventures has been talking to Columbus leaders about its concerns since 2016.
“As attendance League-wide continues to grow on a record-setting pace, and markets across the country seek to join MLS, Columbus’ situation is particularly concerning,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “Despite PSV’s significant investments and improvements on and off the field, Columbus Crew SC is near the bottom of the League in all business metrics and the Club’s stadium is no longer competitive with other venues across MLS. The League is very reluctant to allow teams to relocate, but based on these factors, we support PSV’s efforts to explore options outside of Columbus, including Austin, provided they find a suitable stadium location.”
Precourt also said that the team is hoping to increase attendance and have improved relationship with sponsors and the city.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther responded on Twitter to the Crews possible relocation: