Columbus Crew SC is still exploring a move to Austin, but club owner Anthony Precourt says the right economic model is needed to make relocation viable.
Earlier this week, Precourt issued a lengthy statement that stressed his commitment to continuing to evaluate options for a move to Austin, where a new stadium would be constructed for Crew SC. He first announced in October that he would explore a relocation, and discussions over the last several months have been focused on finding a suitable site for a new stadium. However, the list of city-owned properties that could be used for the project has narrowed, and a push to remove Guerrero Park from the slate of site options has gained some momentum.
For now Precourt is continuing to emphasize his interest in Austin, where he would seek to privately finance a new stadium. However, he says that any move has to provide Crew SC with a more viable financial outlook than it has at its current home, MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus. In an interview that touched on a variety of topics, including the importance of finding local investors in the club, Precourt told the Austin-American Statesman that he is seeking a workable economic model:
“We need an economic model that works,” he said. “We’re trying to do something we think can be pretty special for Austin. But I can’t guarantee we’re going to move here unless we find the right site. This is not an ‘at-all-costs’ (situation).
“Our bar is very high as it relates to the site. That’s everything. Our league will not allow us to move unless we have a site that’s going to set us up for success.”
MLS Commissioner Don Garber must sign off on any Austin stadium location.
“Our stadium site in Columbus and the revenue model associated with it didn’t provide a sustainable situation for us,” Precourt said. “We need to be in a vibrant part of town.”
Earlier this week, the Austin Parks Board unanimously passed a nonbinding vote to recommend that the city remove Guerrero Park from the list of MLS stadium site options. The potential use of existing parkland has been a major sticking point for some, as community members have spoken out against using a portion of Guerrero Park for the facility and public opposition ultimately contributed to Butler Shores Metropolitan Park being removed from consideration.
As far as city-owned site options are concerned, McKalla Place is also in the mix. A stadium there could be complimented by The Domain, a successful mixed-use development, but the site presents some environmental concerns and access issues. Crew SC has discussed moving to Austin as early as 2019, and would play at another facility in the area until construction of a new stadium is complete, but no decision has been finalized to this point.
Rendering courtesy Precourt Sports Ventures.
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