A meeting on Wednesday concerning the future of Columbus Crew SC has passed, and the parties involved are expressing frustration with the outcome.
Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt revealed last month that the club is exploring a potential move to Austin. In light of that announcement, a pair of Columbus officials–mayor Andrew Ginther and Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership–publicly requested a meeting with Precourt and MLS commissioner Don Garber to discuss Crew SC’s future.
The meeting took place in New York City on Wednesday, and both the leaders from Columbus and Precourt have expressed their issues with the discussion. In remarks issued in the aftermath of the meeting, Ginther and Fischer expressed disappointment that MLS and Crew SC was were not willing to commit to Columbus. More from The Columbus Dispatch:
In a joint statement Wednesday night, Ginther and Fischer said the league and Crew ownership “did not come to the meeting willing to commit to staying in Columbus.”
“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,” the statement read in part.
Precourt, however, issued his own statement. According to him, he and MLS had hoped that a plan would emerge to advance efforts to keep Crew SC in Columbus. Precourt’s statement, via MLS.com, suggests that he and the league were disappointed that this was not the case:
We were extremely disappointed that no concrete offer or proposal was presented and then told by the City of Columbus that it would not communicate with us past today.
Precourt Sports Ventures made a clear commitment to Columbus four years ago by purchasing 100 percent of Columbus Crew SC. In the meantime, despite successful efforts to reinvent the brand and improve the Club, market challenges for Crew SC in Columbus continue to mount.
Despite the city’s refusal to make a real offer and its decision to cease conversations, we remain open to a productive dialogue if the City of Columbus reconsiders. Columbus Crew SC remains focused on our quest to win MLS Cup.
The Austin City Council recently approved a resolution that directs staff to begin evaluating city-owned land that could be used for a privately-financed stadium. Precourt has emphasized to this point that no final decisions have been made on the issue, but has added that a new stadium is essential to keeping Crew SC in Columbus. The club currently plays its home games at MAPFRE Stadium, which opened as MLS’s first soccer-specific stadium in 1999 but has since fallen behind the standards set by the league’s newer facilities. Crew SC finished the 2017 regular season with an average of 15,439 fans per game, good for 20th in the 22-team MLS.
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