Report: MLS Expansion Suggested as Possibility for Columbus

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At a recent meeting, it was reportedly suggested that Columbus could pursue an MLS expansion bid if Columbus Crew SC relocates to Austin. 

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 Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt and MLS commissioner Don Garber. In the aftermath of the meeting, both Precourt and the officials from Columbus expressed their frustrations with the discussions. Ginther and Fischer did not feel that the team and the league were willing to commit to Columbus, while Precourt indicated that he and MLS were disappointed at the lack of a concrete proposal from Columbus.

More information about that discussion is surfacing. According to a report in The Columbus Dispatch, expansion was mentioned to Columbus as an option for the city’s future in MLS if Crew SC does ultimately relocate to Austin. More from The Columbus Dispatch:

During the course of that meeting, another option for Columbus’ future was discussed. A source confirmed to The Dispatch on Monday that expansion, in the event the Crew relocates to Austin, Texas, after next season, was presented as an option to the Columbus group.

Precourt Sports Ventures deferred comment to MLS, which did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

Twelve cities submitted applications for four expansion slots in February. Two of those expansion teams are expected to be announced Dec. 18 or 19, will pay expansion fees of $150 million each and are expected to begin play in 2020. Austin was not one of the 12 cities to submit a bid.

Precourt revealed in October that he was exploring a potential move to Austin, noting some of the problems Crew SC is facing in Columbus–including attendance issues and the aging condition of MAPFRE Stadium. He has not finalized a move to this point, but Austin officials are evaluating publicly-owned land for potential sites that could be used for a new MLS stadium.

Image courtesy MAPFRE Stadium. 

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