City leaders surprised by possible Crew SC move; owner visits Austin

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — City leaders continue to speak out one day after Columbus Crew SC ownership announced intentions to potentially move the team to Austin, Texas.

Anthony Precourt, the team’s owner, said the Crew will stay in Columbus only if it obtains a new stadium.

COLUMBUS, OH – DECEMBER 6: Fans of Columbus Crew SC cheer before the 2015 MLS Cup between the Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers on December 6, 2015 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Mayor Andy Ginther explained the city will not ask taxpayers to foot the bill.

“The city isn’t in to building a private, professional soccer stadium,” he said.

Several city and community leaders have indicated that they did not know about the team’s intentions to explore other possible home cities, until they heard or read about it from news outlets.

Among those was Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady.

“I was in shock, yesterday,” he said. “It was in complete shock.”

John O’Grady (WCMH photo)

O’Grady, a Crew season-ticket holder, said he hopes Precourt will agree to a meeting so leaders can try and keep the team in town.

“We’ve got to be able to sit at a table and have a conversation, not fly off to Austin without giving anybody an opportunity to have a conversation about how do we put this together,” he explained.

O’Grady offered to invite team leadership to that discussion, if his fellow commissioners approve.

“Can I reach out to the Crew? I’d love to talk to the Crew,” he said.

The commissioner would not specifically address the likelihood of Columbus seeing a new stadium.

In response to requests for a meeting, similar to O’Grady’s, Crew spokesman Tim Miller wrote:

“Crew SC has held very detailed discussions with Columbus leadership in recent weeks regarding the facts and findings associated with Crew SC and league affairs, and will continue to have discussions.”

On Wednsday, Precourt visited Austin, Texas.

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