The 2017 MLS regular season is over, and Columbus has reached the playoffs. But that is the last thing on the minds of Crew fans. In a press conference last week, owner Anthony Precourt cited stadium difficulties and return on investment as a reason to possibly relocate to Austin, Texas if the city of Columbus doesn’t support a 100 million dollar downtown stadium.
Former owner Lamar Hunt stated in the contract to transfer ownership to Precourt that the Crew could not relocate for ten years, unless the move was to Austin. That was written in 2013. Crew supporters groups held #saveourcrew rallies all over the capital this weekend as the possible 2019 relocation approaches.
So what would a new stadium mean for Columbus?
According to Alex Fischer, CEO of the Columbus Partnership, It is expected that public funding will be requi
red to build a new stadium. That means tax increases for Columbus residents, some of which may not care if the Crew relocates. Also there may not be enough space for a new stadium downtown.
MAPFRE Stadium, the current home of the Crew, was constructed on the Ohio state fairgrounds ten minutes from downtown because of an issue of space. The arena district already contains Nationwide Arena and Huntington Park and the rest of the city has other projects under construction.
To add insult to injury, Austin mayor Steve Adler says his city will not support a publicly financed stadium. It seems that Anthony Precourt is stuck between a rock and a hard place with his brash decision to move away from Ohio and the loyal Crew fans are paying for it. The only way forward is to keep supporting the team and reminding Precourt what opportunities he has in Ohio compared to other markets.