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Crew owner Anthony Precourt: Current situation in Columbus is ‘not sustainable’

Anthony Precourt has made things pretty clear: he wants his Major League Soccer franchise to be successful, whether it stays in Columbus or moves to Austin.

The owner/investor of the Columbus Crew addressed reporters on Tuesday and made it clear that the current state of the club as a business is not working.

“This is an opportunity for us to escalate the conversation for those who need to understand it,” Precourt said. “If there’s a chance for us to stay in Columbus or if there’s a chance for us to move to Austin, we have to start to work on it immediately. Again, our situation is not sustainable. We need to get to a place where we can be successful and put out a good product on and off the field.” 

Although there is plenty of concern in Ohio, Precourt at least confirmed the franchise will remain in Columbus next season.

“This is just the beginning of the process and we look forward to exploring the opportunity,” Precourt said. “We will be playing in Columbus in 2018 and we’re just kicking things off. There is no good time to make this sort of announcement. I understand that. The timing should underscore the seriousness of our actions here to realize our ambition.” 

However, when it came to talking about the specifics about a move to Austin, Precourt was only willing to say this is the first step in the process.

“Nothing is set in stone,” Precourt said. “We’re just getting started with this process. I’m not going to comment on specific stadium sites at this time. Major League Soccer has learned over our history that operating in the urban core where the most people can enjoy and access the facility is important. A downtown location is important.” 

A move from Columbus to Austin may seem like a lateral move in the eyes of some, with both towns being dominated by collegiate sports, but Precourt spoke with excitement about how Austin could succeed based off recent success stories in MLS.

“Austin is the largest metropolitan area in North America without a major league sports team,” Precourt said. “It has a growing national and international presence. It has a strong multicultural population. It’s millenial, it has a robust economy. We’ve long thought of Austin as a potential ideal fit for a Major League Soccer team and the most attractive, untapped market in the United States for Major League Soccer.”

“We’ve seen new markets be really successful in MLS,” Precourt added. “Our recent expansion has been a tremendous success and there is a receptivity to MLS 3.0 and new markets. We’ve got 22 years of operating history in Columbus and we’ve tried really hard over the last four and a half years to improve this club and I’m going to continue to work hard to improve this club. That’s my goal. Our ambition is to be successful on and off the field and be a standard bearer for MLS and we’ve tried very hard to do that in Columbus.” 

One thing Precourt committed to on Tuesday was the private financing of a soccer-specific stadium in either Columbus or Austin.

“This is about building a world-class soccer-specific stadium,” Precourt said. “It’s going to privately financed so we’re not asking for public tax dollars. I did not ask Columbus for anything. We need to make that step as a club.” 

As for what is next for the Crew in the immediate future, Precourt is still excited about the potential the club has to win MLS Cup this season, and he also believes the talk of a move won’t distract the players in October and November.

“Every sports organization’s goal is to win a championship and that’s our goal is to win a championship this year,” Precourt said. “We’ve got a great team. We’re playing really well and we’ve got true pros. We talked to our coaches and players about the situation and they’re good to go. We’re going to give it a run at MLS Cup this year.” 


  1. As a Texan, I would love to see Austin get a pro soccer team. That being said, I give zero support for uprooting professional teams nowadays.

  2. Even so, they’ll have a stadium built in Austin before NYCFC settles on a location for their stadium that will never be built.

    Garber is a snake and did Columbus dirty here.

  3. MR JC— You mean Barton Creek! You said Barton Springs, and I just thought “If they dare to build a stadium over Barton Springs…l!!” —But, yes I was thinking Barton Creek Mall as being conveniently located at the intersection of MoPac, Hwy 71, and 360. Or Highland Mall located at I-35 & 290 intersection.

    • They likely won’t play on the same days, similar to the Yankees and NYCFC. Also, the same college kids who go to UT games will go to the soccer games. The Aztecs drew pretty decent crowds at UT before the flood jacked up the field, and they were a lower division club. An MLS club playing downtown I think will draw massive crowds, unless the FO builds a crap roster…

  4. I can imagine them tearing down a shopping mall in Austin to build a stadium, but not much else. Traffic infrastructure sucks, and dead or dying shopping malls are planted at some of the most convenient freeway inter-sections.

    • No shopping malls downtown. Barton Springs is the closest to that, but I wouldn’t consider that downtown Austin for one, and that mall is not going anywhere for two. The city just turned Highland into an ACC campus, but maybe it’s temporary. Still wouldn’t consider that downtown either. You are dead on about the infrastructure, though…

  5. I’d be more willing to believe him if it weren’t for the Austin escape clause within his promise to keep the team in Columbus for a minimum of 10 years. Plus the one year ultimatum seems willfully unreasonable. Add that to the fact that the Don is already out in the press in full support of Precourt, and it seems like it was a forgone conclusion when he first took over.

    • You’re assuming that this is the first time the city of Columbus is hearing this. I’d guess they’ve know for a long time. The team is now finally making this option known to the public.

      • -Silver
        I think it was on someone from the city said it was not a surprise, that they had known about this for several months. It may have been a surprise that they released it to the public, I suppose.

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