“What we’ve been experiencing in Columbus for many years, and we’ve been somewhat quiet about this, it is among the lowest teams, 20 out of 22, in every measure that matters in pro sports,” Garber said. “Average ticket price, average attendance, average revenue, their local television ratings, their local television deal, every aspect that is going to determine whether a team can be viable. And as our league continues to move in the right direction, we need to continue to have strong clubs.”
Importantly, Garber seems to confirm that there was an “out clause” for Austin in Precourt’s purchase contract:
“One final question on Columbus came from Fox soccer analyst Alexi Lalas, who asked if it was disingenuous for Precourt to have not made it public that the potential move was “contractually based,” referring to an Austin out clause in Precourt’s agreement to purchase the Crew in 2013 that has neither been confirmed nor denied by the league or Precourt.
“I don’t think so, Alexi,” Garber said. “We have a wide variety of things we do when we are in the process of building this league and bringing in owners and at the time Anthony came in, that was a team we were struggling to get a local owner for. We didn’t find that to be successful. We found a guy from San Francisco to do it.”
The alternative, Garber said, was Precourt not buying the team and, “I’m not quite sure whether that team would have continued and we are one team fewer and we’re not as successful as we are today.”