Precourt Sports Ventures – owner of MLS club Columbus Crew – on Wednesday cleared a major barrier in its effort to relocate the MLS club to Austin, Texas.
By a vote of 7-4 the Austin City Council approved a term sheet to build a 20,000-seat soccer-specific stadium at the municipally-owned McKalla Place. Approval came less than a week after a vote on the prospective deal was tabled so City Council members could obtain more information on the matter.
PSV said in a statement: “Precourt Sports Ventures 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.”
The Crew are an original MLS club who began playing in 1996. The club also are credited with building the first soccer-specific stadium in MLS history. Crew Stadium (now known as Mapfre Stadium), which was completed in 1999, is now cited as one of the reasons to relocate the club: PSV has stated it wants a stadium closer to the center of the city.
Political and legal opposition to the Crew’s potential move continues to mount in Ohio. Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther took PSV and MLS to task in a series of tweets and pointed out that Austin’s proposed stadium is three times as far from the downtown area as Mapfre Stadium.
Ohio attorney general Mike DeWine tweeted: “Precourt Sports Ventures and @MLS still have an obligation under Ohio law to provide notice and a reasonable opportunity for local investors to purchase the rights to keep the Crew in Columbus. Our lawsuit will continue. #SaveTheCrew”.
The approved term sheet between PSV and the City of Austin was amended to include a clause where PSV will pay $1m per each year remaining on the stadium lease to the City if they relocate the club again.