Columbus Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt says he will continue to explore moving the club to Austin, but stresses the need to find a suitable stadium site.
Precourt first announced his intention to explore moving the franchise in October. More recently, much of the discussion about Crew SC’s future has been about whether the club will find a site for an MLS stadium in Austin. A variety of city-owned properties were listed as stadium site options in a December report, but several have since been eliminated from consideration. Butler Shores Metropolitan Park, initially a strong contender, was taken off the table because of opposition from some community members over using a portion of the park for the stadium.
That opposition has carried over to Guerrero Park as well, as the Austin Parks Board voted Tuesday to recommend removing it from the list of site contenders. Prior to the vote, Precourt issued a lengthy statement that emphasized Precourt Sports Venture‘s commitment to finding a suitable stadium site in Austin.
“With the right site, we can build a world-class, privately financed $200 million soccer park and grounds,” a portion of the statement read. “As we have said from the onset of this exploratory process, a location in the vibrant urban core where people live, work, and play is of paramount importance. This stadium location is a critical driver to the club’s long-term success.”
In its 11-0 vote Tuesday, the park board unanimously recommended that the Austin City Council direct the city manager to remove Guerrero Park from the list of site options. In the aftermath of the non-binding vote, PSV indicated that it will continue to search for a stadium site in Austin. More from The Austin American-Statesman:
“This is a natural progression of the process,” said Austin MLS lobbyist Richard Suttle. “We are working with the city and community to find the best site for a privately funded, world-class soccer facility in Austin, and we will continue to look at all options.
“Soccer has a natural connection with parks, and we look forward to working with the parks board when we get closer to finding a site.”
Precourt indicated in his statement that, in addition to considering the sites presented in the December report, PSV is evaluating a select group of privately owned land options. However, the statement noted that while PSV wants to continue a thorough search of possible sites, it will not move Crew SC to Austin unless a suitable location is found.
“We are still in the process of identifying the right stadium site in Austin, TX. We recognize some would prefer if this process were to move faster, however we believe that ultimately there is value in being thorough as opposed to being fast. And although we are willing to dedicate significant time and expense in this effort, we are not in a position to move to Austin if the right site is not identified.
Crew SC, which will play the 2018 MLS season at Columbus’s MAPFRE Stadium, has been reported to be targeting a move to Austin as early as 2019. That would require the club to play at a temporary facility until a new stadium could be built. However, no relocation plans have been finalized to this point.
Rendering courtesy Precourt Sports Ventures.
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