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Columbus city leaders left ‘disappointed and frustrated’ after meeting with Crew ownership


A meeting between Columbus city officials and members of Precourt Sports Ventures on Tuesday didn’t end amicably as both sides appear far apart when it comes to keeping the Crew in town.

In a joint statement from Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, the city leaders said that they were “disappointed and frustrated” by the events of Tuesday’s meeting, which was attended by Crew owner Anthony Precourt and MLS commissioner Don Garber. The statement says little progress has been made in keeping the Crew in Columbus over a potential move to Austin.

“We know this is heartbreaking for the dedicated fans in Columbus and across the country who have shown unwavering support for the Columbus Crew SC,” ths statement from mayor Ginther and Fischer said. “We are disappointed and frustrated.

“We were united in putting all options on the table, with the expectation in return that the MLS and ownership would cease pursuing moving the team to Austin. Great American cities do not get into bidding wars over sports teams to benefit private owners. Garber and Precourt were not willing to do that today.

“Once the league and owner are committed to Columbus, we stand ready, willing and able to support the team’s success.”

On the other side, Precourt Sports Ventures countered that the group had “open minds” and were “extremely disappointed” to not be met with a concrete proposal to keep the team in Columbus.

The Crew return to action on Tuesday against Toronto FC at MAPFRE Stadium.


  1. i feel bad for the fans in columbus but if cincinnati gets mls team, maybe crew stadium could be perfect place for the second division usl club to call home and ohio soccer fans would still have an enviable amount of soccer compared to fans in some other parts of the country.

    • Interesting document.

      If all that is true though the bottom line doesn’t lie. I don’t think PSV would work in cahoots with MLS to sabotage the team’s net income.

      Precourt probably isn’t soliciting offers because a new MLS franchise is what $150 million? So in moving the team he’s getting that valuation at the get-go it would appear. Hard for any 3rd tier market like Columbus to compete with.

      Plus Cincinnati is waiting in the wings. If MLS isn’t crazy about Sacramento saturating the market in CA, then they certainly aren’t psyched about another Ohio team.

      I get all the business decision aspect of it. But the fans and the history there I feel really bad for. I’ve been to a Red Bull game there and had fun.

      • Because the cost of expansion is so high, it actually makes financial sense to tank and lose a few million to avoid a 100 million expansion fee. Not mentioned in that document was the horrible tv contract Precourt negotiated.

        With all the expansion talk around the league I don’t understand why mls allowed the out clause to Austin? If Austin is a good city for a new team why not make them go through the expansion process like every other city?

  2. With Garber and Precourt firmly planted in Austin right now there are realistically only two scenarios in which the Crew survive in CBus.

    The first is that for whatever reason (Nimby’s or city gov) Austin ends up rejecting an MLS franchise coming to town. The second is the ownership group realizes just how bad this is and ultimately votes the move down.
    Right now it doesn’t seem like Austin is going to hit enough road bumps to cancel the move.
    That leaves the owners. Every fan across the league needs to get their owner to realize that the evil that Precourt/Garber want to perpetrate is not worth the questionable monetary return, nor the bad PR that this is causing their teams.
    Please contact your ownership group, front office, et al., to tell them why this is bad. Tell them that you vote with your dollars. Tell them that this is not the way that we want MLS to do business. Tell them whatever you think will get them to realize just how much they shouldn’t want Precourt in the ownership group. Tell them not to approve the movement of a team, let alone a founding member.
    On another note, one thing that all fans can do is cancel their MLS Live right now, and make sure they know why you are doing it. If you want to re-up in Feb that’s fine, but send a message now.

  3. Admittedly MLS/SUM does have too much influence w/ USSF. There are blatant conflicts of interest with people serving on both boards. However, that does not mean that the legal definition of collusion happened. The NASL was never going to be a serious candidate for a D 1 league. It has much lower attendance than USL and it is not surprising that it is struggling. The last time a sports league tried to sue another for monopolistic practices didn’t go well for Donnie and the USFL. And I suspect the same result will happen today. The MLS, even if it loses, will just keep appealing the case up the line to the Court of Appeals and potentially SCOTUS, while waging a war of attrition against the NASL. San Francisco didn’t even draw 20K for the ENTIRE season. OTOH, FC Cincinnati had close to 40K for its US Open Cup matches.

    • NASL shot themselves in the foot by trying to position themselves to become D! which was a bit crazy of course. Part of that was the Cosmos ownership’s fierce opposition to anything MLS. NASL didn’t want to play ball and USL was more than happy to play ball with MLS after they got past their financial restructuring and buy out after NuPower even allowing MLS second teams to enter. No doubt NASL misplayed things quite badly.

      The loser in all this are two groups soccer fans and soccer players A viable D2 league that’s more than just a version of AAA baseball could become in time more like the English Championship or 2.Bundesliga. In Europe and SA D2 clubs do a lot of the local scouting and developing of young players before then jump to bigger club as they enter their early to mid teens. The expansion of professional youth systems and scouting is what we really need and a strong and well supported D2 league is sorely need here.

      Also, who’s more corrupt, TrafficSports or MLS/SUM?

      • That last comment is the most insane thing you’ve ever suggested. When MLS board members are pleading guilty to racketeering, money laundering, and wire fraud charges then you can start trying to make that comparison. Also the US has way more separation between the federation and almost any league, in fact most federations run the leagues, NASL wouldn’t even be sanctioned in most countries. I suppose now you’ll hatch a theory that Garber runs the Justice Department.

    • You’re exactly right and that’s really the problem because MLS/SUM control USSF as well. Decisions at the federation level should be being made based on whats best for soccer instead of whats best for business. Overlapping boards and leaderships and even finances as shown by the Barbara Boxer probe back when the WNT was arguing for equal pay.

    • Yep, its sad really. This is what could happen to any of our clubs too. If you a fan of any MLS club and attendance is down or ownership wants a new shiny stadium this could happen to you too. Much more of a NFL model that the rest of world but that not why soccer fans love the sport. Clubs are sacred to their fans and moving them to entirely new markets/regions almost never happens because it would be the end of the club because their would be no fans. Single entity changes all that and gives the ownership far more leverage against its fan base.

      • Joe – If the people of Columbus had truly treated the Crew as something sacred, they would not be moving out of town. Support for that team is generally tepid, even when they are one of the best and most fun teams in the league to watch.

      • They were the first club in MLS. First soccer specific stadium. Home if several critical World Cup qualifiers. They have a big piece if the soul of American soccer for sure.

  4. So, Columbus politicians want a show of commitment before risking their political capital on giving financial incentives to a sports club, ok makes sense. Precourt and MLS want a proposal and plan on what the city is willing to do before they make a public show of commitment and thereby limiting their options, also reasonable. However, I seriously doubt that either side is willing to give what the other side wants. Don’t think Columbus is going to help finance a stadium and don’t thing Precourt or MLS ever wanted to keep the club in Columbus. Looks pretty much over for Columbus unfortunately. This is bad long term for tv revenue, MLS needs a club somewhere in Ohio to fill the tv market for future rights negotiations, Ohio is too big a state to ignore.

    • Sounds like Garber intended to fill that void with Cincinnati but other articles indicate that may in the process of falling through as well.

      Also sounds like MLS may have successfully broken the NASL. That is NOT good and it allows MLS to indulge in all sorts of leveraging and monopolistic behavior…which is exactly what is killing the game in the USA to begin with, the way a lot of predatory pay-for-play clubs conquer field space.

      So hey, why not do the same thing writ large with our league structure as well? Because it’s really working out for us as an emerging soccer superpower.

      • I agree Quozzel, It all goes back to the bigger problem of USSF is not in control either as the authority for determining and sanctioning D1,D2, D3 status to leagues or in selecting and managing our NTs. The reality is USSF is a pawn of MLS/SUM with overlapping boards and leadership and even finances as shown by the Senator Boxer probe over equal pay.

        The number 1 objective for the next USSF president should be to reestablish USSF independence and authority over all things soccer in its jurisdiction. MLS/SUM must be put in their place which is as our first division league and nothing more. USSF must take back its marketing rights from SUM as well who actually at one point was 25% sold to a PE firm which means that PE firm was receiving 25% of any tv rights or other marketing revenue from our NTs. Absolutely ridiculous. Just search MLS, SUM, Providence Equity if anyone wants to read about it.

        Now MLS is telling its lackeys at USSF to desanction NASL because NASL had aspirations to receive and become a second D1 sanctioned league at some point in the future. The smart NASL clubs saw the battle for what it was 2-3 years ago and know who was in control and with aspirations to join MLS decided it was best not to fight MLS and joined USL early. The dumb clubs still in NASL are taking the worst of it because they failed to realize the political landscape and bought the bull the Cosmos ownership groups where selling about challenging MLS.

        We can keep the status quo with the next president but it won’t advance our NTs play or youth development much. The key to getting us to level up long term is having a federation that is in control of both itself and its own authority with its jurisdiction so that it benefits play and actual soccer and not the business interest of MLS/SUM.

        I’m not sure who the best of the current crop of candidates would be, but one of my criteria for the new president would be someone who is not overly linked to MLS/SUM and preferably someone who has butted heads with MLS on numerous occasions. We need a fighter not a manager.

  5. There’s no love for the game in American football. From the youngest players to the pros it’s all about the money. Greed runs this game.


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