Top Stories

Don Garber reluctant but supportive of Crew’s exploration of Austin relocation

There are few positive signs that the Columbus Crew will remain in Ohio after news broke on Monday night that owner/investor Anthony Precourt is looking at moving the club to Austin, Texas.

In a statement, MLS commissioner Don Garber expressed concern for the situation in Columbus, but was also reluctant to support the relocation of one of MLS’ original clubs.

“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,” Garber said. “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’s statement went along the same path as Garber’s, citing the concern about Columbus as a sustainable market. He also went on to praise the potential home of the franchise in 2019.

“Despite our investments and efforts, the current course is not sustainable,” Precourt 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.”

In a statement on Twitter, Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther said he was open to talking with the Crew ownership, but did not receive full cooperation from Precourt Sports Ventures.

There’s certainly more to come from this story, but the statements by both Garber and Precourt aren’t exactly shining a positive light down on Columbus.


  1. Of course they block MLS LIve in areas near Columbus, OH. Why wouldn’t they? They block MLS Live in Austin, TX for games in Houston and Frisco, which are both hundreds of miles away. Do you really think that anyone would drive all the way to those cities from Austin on a regular basis? Columbus, OH is not the exception to the rule. That is how it works.

    • It’s a team by team decision, most teams don’t block MLS Live unless the game is nationally televised.

      With Cbus, anyone that was outside of the city wasn’t able to get them on tv due to the channel they chose to show the games on. Anyone less than 150 miles from Cbus couldn’t watch on MLS Live. There was a whole section of the population that coulnd’t watch home or away games. That’s a lot of people to be missing out on.

  2. This is playing out on all the same beats as the Sonics and OKC. Owner buys team claiming he will try to get a new stadium when he has every intention of moving the team to a specific location. It’d be a real shame if things worked out for Precourt like they did for Aubrey McClendon. Real shame

  3. Yawn, Wake me up when they announce groundbreaking for a stadium. Austin has no SSS. The traffic infrastructure in Austin is absurd and intentionally underfunded by the state.

  4. Don’t have an answer for this but, Would they start hitting 20-25K average attendance if a new stadium is built in Columbus? I know its a larger market than Cincy but still on the smaller side nationally and a lot of that population is from Ohio State so not necessarily loyal to a local pro franchise. Columbus is making the playoffs this year so its not a bad team on the field by MLS standards.

    MLS does need a team in Ohio though for its TV footprint. I wonder if this means they have already made the decision on Cincy being one of the expansion franchises. And Austin’s not the largest market this ownership group would have available either. Of Detroit, Phoenix, and the Carolinas one or two of those markets will still be available after the expansion announcement later this year.

    Just speaking out loud.

    • Precourt has done a horrible job with the local tv contracts since taking over. People can’t get the channel unless they happen to have the right cable provider (which severely affected most of the population surrounding Cbus), and MLS Live blocked the games just to make matters worse (the majority of markets don’t block MLS Live when games are only televised locally).

      Add this to a marketing campaign that barely stretched to the city limits, and you have alienated most of Central Ohio.

      Precourt wore a guise of being a good caretaker (brand make-over, minor repairs to the stadium, etc.) but when you look back at it, he was just putting in the minimum to keep things going until he could move the team.

      • @Silver, Interesting info. Sounds like the fix was in from the start. Why block MLSLive to subscribers unless you want them to pay for a ticket. Sounds terrible for the real fans, its sounds like the decision was made long ago and not even recently. Do you think Precourt bought the team with the initial intention to move within 3 years?

      • Considering how quickly Garber came out with a statement in support of Precourt, and the way the that the contract was put together with the Austin escape clause, plus the absurdly short time ultimatum, it’s hard not to conclude that this was the plan all along. Endorsed by MLS from the beginning.

  5. Of course Garber wanted this, he was the one that allowed the ‘no move from Cbus – unless it’s Austin’ clause in the original contract that brought ‘Traiting Aces’ Precourt into the SUM family.

    I’ve been reticent to encourage the Garber tinfoil hat conspiracists out there, given all the good that the Don has done over the last decade plus to get MLS where it is right now, in the end it’s all about $$$$$$$.

  6. Its slightly bigger and better than a Texas HS football stadium. Was nice and quaint when it opened but very minor league now.
    Im all for relocating under supported teams.
    Im also for relegation to push owners into trying to make teams more competitive and not sit on a crap product.
    Id rather see an under performing team move than water down an already watered down league with more expansion.

    • It’s a high school stadium with MLS colors on it. It’s a grand old lady, who has done a lot for the Crew, MLS and the USMNT, but it is undersized, in a relatively bad location, and not at all keeping up with the Jones.


Leave a Comment