According to a recent affidavit, a prospective local investor in Columbus Crew SC never signed a non-disclosure agreement provided by the organization.
A legal challenge is taking place as the result of Crew SC’s exploration of a move to Austin. While a relocation has not been finalized, the City of Columbus and the State of Ohio filed a lawsuit against Precourt Sports Ventures and MLS, with the plaintiffs citing an Art Modell-inspired state law to prevent the team from moving.
One of the key sticking points in that state law, designed to prevent the relocation of a professional sports franchise that has accepted public funding for a facility, concerns the opportunity for local investors to purchase the team. The law stipulates that in order to move a franchise must first provide six months notice and the opportunity for local investors to buy the team.
In an affidavit signed by Crew president of business operations Andy Loughnane on Monday, it is claimed that on December 6, the team provided a non-disclosure agreement that would allow a prospective local investor to review key financial information. It also claims that the NDA was never returned, and that the prospective investor made no attempts to negotiate the terms of the document. A separate affidavit from MLS claims that the same individual was later provided with a new NDA, but has not responded. More from The Columbus Dispatch:
Major League Soccer general counsel William Z. Ordower said Monday in a separate signed affidavit that after conversations with potential buyers from Columbus on behalf of MLS, Soccer United Marketing and Crew SC, the same individual who was provided a nondisclosure agreement in December was provided a new NDA along with “an additional party.”
“We are awaiting a signed document, at which point certain financial and other information shall be provided to such signatories,” Ordower’s affidavit read….
The affidavits were included as part of a memo filed by PSV and MLS counsel in opposition to a motion from Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein earlier this month asking the court to toll, or pause, the six-month notice period spelled out in Ohio Revised Code Section 9.67, commonly referred to as the Art Modell Law, to provide locals an opportunity to make an offer to purchase the team as spelled out in the law.
Technically, MAPFRE Stadium–which originally opened as Columbus Crew Stadium in 1999–was privately financed, but the team has accepted free land, below-market leases and parking improvements. In a motion to dismiss filed last Thursday, the defendants argued that MLS’s single-entity structure makes the league–not Anthony Precourt’s PSV–the team’s owner. It was argued that MLS could be the only one of the two defendants subject to the law, and that the league itself has not accepted the public financial assistance.
Nothing has been completely resolved regarding the long-term status of Crew SC. In Austin, city officials have voted to study McKalla Place as the future site of an MLS stadium, but a decision on that plan is likely still a few months away.
Image courtesy MAPFRE Stadium.
RELATED STORIES: MLS, Columbus Crew SC File Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit; Crew SC: We’d Open The Books for Interested Buyers; Austin to Study McKalla Place for MLS Stadium; Precourt: New Austin MLS Stadium Will Generate $326M in Benefits; Precourt: We’re Pursuing McKalla Place Stadium Site for Crew; Columbus Crew SC, MLS Respond to Lawsuit; Ohio, Columbus Sue to Block Columbus Crew SC Move; Precourt Still Exploring Austin Move for Columbus Crew SC; Columbus Crew SC Will Continue to Explore Austin Move; Parks Board Could Recommend Removing Guerrero Park MLS Stadium Site Options; McKalla Park Still on Table for Austin MLS Stadium Site; Austin MLS Stadium Site Discussion Postponed; Columbus Crew SC Details Financial Concerns; Austin Chamber Backs City’s Columbus Crew SC Pursuit