On Eve of Austin MLS Vote, Mark Wahlberg Expresses Interest in Crew

Columbus Crew badgeJust the sort of thing you don’t want on the eve of a big vote: With the Austin City Council set to decide the fate of a proposed MLS stadium tomorrow, actor/used-car dealer Mark Wahlberg expressed interest in buying the Columbus Crew and preventing a move to Texas.

Wahlberg, owner of Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet in Columbus, was in town to promote his new- and used-car dealership. Interestingly, he was asked by a local television station about his interest in buying the Crew. So far there has little solid interest from local investors in buying the Crew and keeping it in Columbus, according to MLS officials. And although the local booster club unveiled a conceptual plan for a new downtown stadium, Anthony Precourt is moving forward with a plan for a new McKalla Place stadium. After delaying a decision last week, the Austin City Council is expected to decide one way or the other on a stadium plan. Here’s what Wahlberg told ABC 6:

“Actually, you know what, I certainly would. My dear friend Bob Kraft has not only [owns] the [New England] Patriots, but he owns the New England Revolution as well. I have a bunch of people who are involved. I think that may be something we need to discuss. I became a huge, huge soccer fan. This World Cup really got me.”

Wahlberg is wealthy, but not necessarily MLS-level wealthy, with his net worth pegged at $225 million. (By comparison, Forbes pegs the net worth of his dear friend, Robert Kraft, at over $6 billion.) Maybe that’s why MLS officials told ESPN there’s “nothing substantive” to Walhberg’s comments about saving the Crew: it’s a nice little promotion for Mark Wahlberg Chevrolet, but nothing so far that comes remotely close to impacting the potential move of the team.

Under recently revised terms, Crew investor-operator Anthony Precourt would privately finance a $200 million venue at McKalla Place. The city would maintain control of the land, meaning that PSV would not pay property taxes. However, PSV would lease the land for $550,000 annually after year five, or $8.25 million over the initial 20-year agreement. In addition, the group would pay for site preparation and any cost overruns.

Rendering courtesy Gensler Sports Practice.

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