Discussion over the future of Columbus Crew SC continues, with Columbus officials suggesting potential stadium sites and Austin officials planning a key report of their own on potential stadium sites.
Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt is exploring a move to Austin. The club has pointed to several concerns about its current situation, including the aging condition of MAPFRE Stadium and its relatively low attendance numbers.
Back on November 15, Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther and Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, took part in a meeting in New York that included Precourt and MLS commissioner Don Garber. Frustration was expressed after that meeting, with Ginther and Fischer not feeling that the team and the league were willing to commit to Columbus, and Precourt indicating that he and MLS were disappointed at the lack of a concrete proposal from Columbus.
Ginther and Fischer have now issued a letter stating that they had suggested multiple stadium sites to Crew SC. That mix featured some publicly owned sites, including Dodge Recreation Center in Franklinton, Berliner Park, and redevelopment of the expo center and state fairgrounds (where MAPFRE Stadium is located). The letter also notes unspecified downtown locations that are privately owned. More from The Columbus Dispatch:
Along with stadium sites, the letter outlined scenarios in which local investors would purchase portions of the team. All of those offers are contingent on the Crew and MLS making a long-term commitment to staying in Columbus.
Ginther and Fischer both signed the letter. Both declined to comment on the letter, Ginther doing so through a spokeswoman.
In a statement, the Crew owners said: “Precourt Sports Ventures received and has read the letter distributed by Columbus Mayor Ginther and Alex Fischer. As noted two weeks ago, PSV remains open to productive dialogue should the City of Columbus choose to re-engage with PSV.”
First, the city needs a commitment, said Robin Davis, the mayor’s spokeswoman. “We want to be able to enter into good faith partnership with the MLS and with Mr. Precourt and for all of us to be able to do that and move any further we need the commitment from them that they will stay in Columbus. We aren’t interested in being in a bidding war with another city.”
Austin, meanwhile, is moving forward with its pursuit of Crew SC, and is planning to discuss options for potential stadium sites in the middle of December. On December 14, the Austin City Council will consider a staff report that evaluates city-owned land that could be used for the construction of a new MLS stadium.
That report is the result of a resolution that the council passed this month. More form The Austin American-Statesman:
Mayor Steve Adler and [mayor pro tem Kathie] Tovo each told the American-Statesman on Tuesday that they have not had a sneak peek at the staff’s work and will wait until the study is completed.
“I look forward to seeing it because this is an exciting opportunity for our city,” Adler said. “We have an MLS team coming to us, publicly declaring they are interested in relocating here.”
Precourt publicly announced in October that he was exploring a possible relocation to Austin. No final decisions on a potential move have been made to this point, and Crew SC is slated to spend the 2018 MLS campaign at MAPFRE Stadium.
Image courtesy MAPFRE Stadium.
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