Ohio state rep says 1996 law may save the Columbus Crew

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 21: Fans of the Columbus Crew SC cheer on their team prior to the start of the match against the Toronto FC at MAPFRE Stadium on November 21, 2017 in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus tied Toronto 0-0. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — State representative Mike Duffey is asking the Ohio Attorney General’s office to take legal action against Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt based on a law passed when former Browns owner Art Modell sought to move the franchise.

“If nothing else, we can be very mad at the Browns all year long, but right now, they just did us a huge favor,” Duffey said.

Modell is the former owner who relocated the original Browns to Baltimore in late 1995.

Under Ohio revised code:

No owner of a professional sports team that uses a tax-supported facility for most of its home games and receives financial assistance from the state or a political subdivision thereof shall cease playing most of its home games at the facility and begin playing most of its home games elsewhere unless the owner either:

(A) Enters into an agreement with the political subdivision permitting the team to play most of its home games elsewhere;

(B) Gives the political subdivision in which the facility is located not less than six months’ advance notice of the owner’s intention to cease playing most of its home games at the facility and, during the six months after such notice, gives the political subdivision or any individual or group of individuals who reside in the area the opportunity to purchase the team.

Duffey said the state used $5 million in tax money for parking upgrades outside MAPFRE stadium.

“Anyone who bought the team should have looked at the state law and known what state law said,” he added.

Crew fans say they are pleased with Duffey’s request.

“It’s certainly a glimmer of hope, a little bit of positive news,” said Walt Keys.

A spokesman from Precourt Sports Ventures issued the following statement: “Precourt Sports Ventures has seen the public remarks made by State Rep. Mike Duffey and PSV will not have further comment at this time.”

Immediate calls to the Attorney General’s office were not returned.

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