The Columbus Crew could be playing in Austin as soon as 2019, as the Austin City Council approved the term sheet for a McKalla Place land lease, clearing the way for Anthony Precourt to finance the $200 million MLS stadium.
The vote, after a series of amendments both serious (upping the penalty for nonperformance) and potential poison pills (a huge lease hike from $550,000 to $958,720 annually, which failed), was not particularly close: 7-4. The lease approval gives Precourt Sports Ventures 24 acres of city of land, which will be used for the stadium and other development. Precourt has signaled his intent to move the Crew to Austin next year, which will mean some sort of temporary facility until a new stadium is ready for play.
Though the term sheet has been public and serves as the basis for today’s City Council action. it will be up to city staff to turn that term sheet into a final lease. The city is not on the hook for any part of the stadium construction; Precourt will finance it privately.
There are still some loose ends in Columbus: the city has invoked the so-called Modell Law, created former Cleveland Browns Art Modell owner m0ved his NFL team to Baltimore. The state law was designed to prevent franchise moves and give locals a chance to buy any team playing out of a taxpayer-supported facility. But so far no local group has stepped forward to make an offer to buy the Crew, and taxpayers did not build MAPFRE Stadium: it was financed by Lamar Hunt and Hunt Sports. A hearing about the application of the law here is set for Sept. 4.
The following statements were issued by Precourt Sports Ventures and the Crew:
Precourt Sports Ventures statement
“Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV) is extremely pleased that Austin City Council has voted to authorize negotiations and execution of agreements with PSV for a privately funded Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium and park at McKalla Place.
We wish to express our gratitude to the Austin City Council for passing today’s momentous resolutions. We thank council for acknowledging the groundswell of support to help bring MLS to Austin.
We have been incredibly honored to work alongside the growing community of volunteers, families, and supporters who have proudly persevered to make this historic vote possible. Your efforts have helped make a difference at each step of the pursuit and we wish to thank you very much for your support.
We also wish to extend our special thanks to Mayor Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Tovo and all council members for their ongoing leadership and vision, and to all city staff who have worked diligently with Council to prepare for the passage of today’s important resolutions.”
Columbus Crew SC statement
“Precourt Sports Ventures has been clear that identifying and working toward a solution for the sustainability and viability of this Club has not been merely an option or goal, but in fact a necessity to achieve long-term stability and success in Major League Soccer.
As we have stated before, normal business operations continue in Columbus for 2018, and Crew SC remains focused on winning an MLS Cup title.”
Rendering courtesy Gensler Sports Practice.
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