UPDATE (ca. 2018) about this website

This project served its purpose and has run its course. In the confusing final months of 2017, the research leading to this timeline illuminated the duplicity of Anthony Precourt and MLS as they planned together to victimize the city of Columbus and its fans over several years.

Since the events of late 2017, the strong and willing Columbus community has produced a critical mass of media coverage, civic leadership outrage, and sleuthing by loyal fans. Updates to this timeline are thus no longer needed.

Thank you all for the tips and leads. I leave this site as a memorial to the detestable actions of Anthony Precourt. I wish all in Columbus the best in their endeavor to thwart villainous Anthony Precourt and MLS. I continue to do my part in new ways.

Ohio Revised Code 9.67 goes into effect

9.67 Restrictions on owner of professional sports team that uses a tax-supported facility.

No owner of a professional sports team that uses a tax-supported facility for most of its home games and receives financial assistance from the state or a political subdivision thereof shall cease playing most of its home games at the facility and begin playing most of its home games elsewhere unless the owner either:

(A) Enters into an agreement with the political subdivision permitting the team to play most of its home games elsewhere;

(B) Gives the political subdivision in which the facility is located not less than six months’ advance notice of the owner’s intention to cease playing most of its home games at the facility and, during the six months after such notice, gives the political subdivision or any individual or group of individuals who reside in the area the opportunity to purchase the team.

Effective Date: 06-20-1996.

Link to Source

The Hunts and Precourts have been in business together for a VERY long time

Jay Precourt (Anthony’s father) and Ray Hunt (Lamar’s half-brother) are both named defendants on a lawsuit vs Halliburton from 2002, they were on a board together from 1998 to 2007.

Link to Civil Complaint PDF

Jay Precourt was an Independent Director of Halliburton Company from 1998 to May 19, 2010 Link to Source

Ray Hunt was a Director at Halliburton Co. from 1998 to May 16, 2007 Link to Source

Investors who tried to bring MLS to Las Vegas are interested in minority stake in the Crew

The group making the acquisition is headed by Noorzai, who formed the Las Vegas Sports & Entertainment Group in 2006 with the goal of bringing a professional soccer team to Las Vegas. He has been seeking an expansion team from MLS since then to play in a $500 million, retractable-roof, soccer-specific stadium and an adjacent hotel and casino, the Las Vegas Sun reported.

At his state-of-the-league address this summer, MLS Commissioner Don Garber mentioned Las Vegas in a list of nine expansion cities, along with Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Atlanta, Miami, Portland, St. Louis and New York.

Link to Source

The Crew are actively exploring new stadium and training facility locations

O’Grady, McCullers and Hunt agreed that any new facility for the Crew would likely have to be financed with a public-private partnership. The Crew has explored “every possible site in the city and a bunch that aren’t” for a new training facility or stadium, McCullers said. Hilliard, two sites in Delaware County, Cooper Stadium and other parcels of land have been considered for a training facility and, potentially, an adjacent stadium.

Link to Source

Clark Hunt talks about a future, publicly funded stadium in Columbus

Are you at the point where you are simply waiting on some help from local business and political leaders to help with some of the facility improvements you would like to see?

“I wouldn’t say we’re waiting on it. That’s something that’s very important for us to cultivate. Ultimately, sports franchises belong to the communities they play in. From a fan standpoint, a corporate standpoint, a political standpoint, we need people to understand our value to the city. We haven’t yet gone throughout the difficult process of building a publicly-supported facility. That’s probably something the franchise is going to need to stay in Columbus. That’s our home, but at some point in the future we’ll have to cross that bridge.”

Link to Source

Hunts hire an Ohio banking firm to help them sell a minority stake in the Crew

Cleveland investment banking firm Western Reserve Partners LLC has been hired by Hunt Sports Group to sell a minority ownership stake in the Columbus Crew soccer team to one or more local investors. Clark Hunt, chairman of Texas-based Hunt Sports Group, said in a news release that Western Reserve Partners will pursue investors who share his family’s “passion for soccer and commitment to seeing the sport grow and flourish in central Ohio, as well as (Hunt Sports Group’s) long-term investment philosophy.” Mr. Hunt said Hunt Sports Group selected Western Reserve Partners because of the firm’s “successful track record and close relationships with business leaders in Columbus and throughout the state.” The Hunt family will continue to own a majority share of the team and 11-year-old Columbus Crew Stadium. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the move “comes less than two years after a bid to acquire a minority share of the team by Las Vegas businessman Mark Noorzai and a group of local investors fizzled.” The Crew had 35 local investors who owned a combined 39% interest in the team in 1996, the first year of operation for Major League Soccer, The Dispatch reports. By 1998, the team had 22 minority owners who owned a 45% stake. The Crew since has kept those numbers private, according to the Columbus newspaper. Like most other MLS teams, the Crew has never made a profit, The Dispatch reports, “although the multiuse stadium on the state fairgrounds has been a strong revenue producer, augmented by the addition of a permanent concert stage in 2008.”

Link to Source

Hunts seek local investors to strengthen ties to Columbus

Texas-based Hunt Sports Group, the Crew’s investor-operator, plans to strengthen the team’s ties to Columbus.

Majority owner Clark Hunt, son of late Crew and Major League Soccer founder Lamar Hunt, said Hunt Sports Group has hired the Cleveland-based investment bank Western Reserve Partners to sell a minority ownership stake in the team to one or more local investors.

The Hunt family will continue to own a majority share of the team and 11-year-old Columbus Crew Stadium.

The move comes less than two years after a bid to acquire a minority share of the team by Las Vegas businessman Mark Noorzai and a group of local investors fizzled.

Link to Source

SBNation Blogger ‘denz’ mentions SA/Austin in an opinion post about MLS expansion

I actually think the magic number for Don’s 20 year plan is 30, just like the NHL and the NBA. If you look at the map above there are 29 markets indicated on the map, those were cities that 4 years MLS was already looking at, it would be easy to add one more market (Orlando, San Antonio/Austin, Carolina, Phoenix, or ??) to that map. Then you get the two conferences of 15 teams each with 3 divisions of 5 teams each.

Link to Source

Crew says it contributes $25 million annually on direct spending in Columbus

With this kind of momentum, combined with an important US Men’s National Team 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Jamaica on September 11, and the continued support of Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman in helping the Crew accomplish these goals, the future is exciting.  The Crew organization and the Hunt family are deeply committed to the success of this region, and proud of the nearly $25 million in annual direct spending the Crew enterprise contributes to Columbus.

Link to Source

The Hunts were looking for minority local investors; the league designed their business goals; Hispanic outreach was meaningful

Lots going on in the article linked to below.

The Hunts were only looking for local minority investors, and Garber overstated their intentions publicly:

The Hunt family quickly refuted Garber, declaring that, though they had been seeking local minority investors since 2010 in keeping with the league’s emphasis on local ownership, the commissioner had “overstated” that objective. (Ron Pizutti is the team’s primary local minority investor). “The City of Columbus, the Crew and Crew stadium are extremely important to our family, and that hasn’t changed,” said Clark Hunt, chairman of the Hunt Sports Group, in a public statement. “Adding local investors, reaching our goal of 10,000 ticket holders, securing a naming rights partner for Crew Stadium and boosting support from the business community are all critical factors in the long-term success of the Crew in Columbus.” Hunt Sports Group declined to comment for this story.

The three main business goals (increase season tickets, jersey sponsor, and stadium naming rights) were worked out with the league:

While the time is right for the Hunt Sports Group to seek local investment partners, Crew general manager Mark McCullers, who’s been with the team for 15 years, doesn’t expect to be working under new owners anytime soon. With a three-year timetable to meet the three-armed ticket sales, jersey and stadium sponsorship goals devised in cooperation with the league, McCullers signed a four-year contract extension in 2011.

Discussion of Hispanic outreach shows how important it was to the Hunts and the Crew in general (compare this to the entry from January 1, 2015, by which time all Spanish language outreach had stopped; see also La Turbina Amarilla being denied Nordecke tickets in 2015):

The Crew’s engagement of Central Ohio’s Hispanic and African communities, most of whom already watch international soccer, is unparalleled among local sports organizations, says Orozco. “That crowd, we don’t have to sell them soccer. They’re already huge soccer fans, so we have to sell them the Crew.”

The article contains a discussion of how revenue is shared between MLS and league investor-operators:

A portion of all MLS teams’ revenue reverts to the league; if the league is profitable, a dividend is returned to team owners. Neither McCullers nor Courtemanche would disclose the percentage of the revenue shared between the league and the team, but in 2012, Garber told the Dispatch that shared league revenue streams include national broadcast and merchandising revenue, as well as 30 percent of ticket sales. While a percentage of the Crew’s jersey sponsorship revenue will revert to MLS, revenue secured through the sale of stadium naming rights for the privately owned stadium would stay with the club.

Link to Source

Austin-based blogger Josh Babetski is a Philadelphia Union fan “until the day he dies”

Search this site for “Babetski” for more on Josh and his bumbling efforts to cover up that his blog is a Precourt Astroturf campaign. He was clearly brought into the PSV fold and made to feel like he was important, and he just can’t help himself but step on his own feet in the process of carrying out his PSV tasks.

I love NY and am excited for @nycfc in the city limits, but I’ll be sticking w/the @PhilaUnion ’til the day I die. #DOOP

Link to Tweet

For more on amateur blogger Babetski’s love of the Philadelphia Union, click here.

Precourt acquires the Crew

Precourt Sports Ventures of San Francisco has bought the Columbus Crew from Hunt Sports Group. Clark Hunt, chairman of Hunt Sports Group, made the announcement today at Crew Stadium.

Link to Source

It is now widely reported that the purchase of the Crew included an “out clause” allowing Precourt to move the team to Austin, Texas; according to Alex Fischer “It appears he and others have long had a secret plan to try to move the team to Austin, starting with what has been reported as an ‘escape clause’ in his 10-year agreement that no one was aware of, and months of private discussions in Austin. It’s a shame leaders here in Columbus have been misled for so long.”

Source for Fischer Quote

Precourt’s purchase agreement included a promise to keep Crew SC in Columbus for at least 10 years, as well as an escape clause in the event Precourt decided to move the team to Austin. Precourt declined to discuss the specifics of the purchase agreement.

Link to Source

Here’s a source with a quote from an Arace column that mentions the clause.

On December 8, 2017, Garber seems to confirm that the Austin clause was essential to Precourt’s purchase of the Crew (see our entry on that date regarding the 2017 “State of the MLS” address).

Report says there is nothing in PSV’s purchase contract binding the Crew to Columbus

Both Hunt and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman said that a “key point in the sale was that the Crew remain in Columbus — although the contract does not contain language tying the team to the city.” PSV Managing Partner Anthony Precourt, who becomes the team’s Chair, “declined to disclose the purchase price” and “assumes ownership immediately, inheriting a team that has publicly identified two remaining objectives necessary to bring financial stability: selling naming rights to Crew Stadium and reaching 10,000 season ticket-holders.”

Link to Source

Still, the community “probably would have been better served if the Hunts had found a way to transfer the team to local ownership.” Hunt said of that notion, “I wouldn’t be concerned. We were trying to count it last night — there are eight or nine owners of MLS teams who live in California, so I don’t think it’s a problem as long as he’s committed to it, and I get the sense he’s going to be very committed. He’s going to spend a whole lot of time here in the market”.

Link to Dispatch Commentary

Dispatch commentary is weary of Precourt, who assures Mayor Coleman the team will stay

“You all know me pretty well,” Coleman said. “You know my first question was, ‘Is the Crew staying in Columbus?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely, the Crew is in Columbus to stay.’ 

The mayor added later that “When he committed to Columbus, that’s the first time I smiled. We shook hands on it, and I’m a handshake guy.”

But for all that could be, the community probably would have been better served if the Hunts had found a way to transfer the team to local ownership. That isn’t the Hunts’ fault; they have tried to find minority investors for a few years without success.

Link to Dispatch Commentary

Precourt was at the April, 2013 game where the scoreboard caught fire

“The first game we went to, there was a little bonfire to keep us all warm,” Precourt said yesterday inside the Upper 90 Club overlooking the field in Crew Stadium. “One thing I loved was when the Nordecke sang the national anthem after the audio system went down (because of the fire). That’s the kind of thing we’re focused on, making the fans much more involved and making Crew Stadium a home-field advantage for everyone.”

Also in the article, a comment from Hunt about Precourt’s commitment to Columbus:

“Anthony is very committed to seeing the Crew through to success here in Columbus, and that was very important to us in terms of the overall transaction,” Hunt said.

Link to Source

PSV’s negotiation to buy the Crew from the Hunts took 4 months

Precourt, the managing director of Precourt Sports Ventures, first expressed interest in buying a sports team a year ago. That’s when he contacted Rob Tilliss, the founder and CEO of the sports investment firm Inner Circle Sports, to begin the process. (Inner Circle Sports ultimately ended up advising the Hunt Sports Group, the original owners of the Crew dating to the league’s inception in 1994, on the sale). Negotiations took four months to complete.

Link to Source

Precourt wants to be the Green Bay Packers of soccer

Anthony Precourt, the new owner of the Crew, has an ambition that is shared by a legion of small- and mid-market owners of professional sports franchises. “Potentially, this can be the Green Bay Packers of soccer,” Precourt said.

Link to Source

See also the November 11, 2017 Brewdog statement (below), which does, in fact, offer to make the team’s ownership structure similar to that of the community-owned Green Bay Packers.

Precourt reiterates goal of 10k season ticket holders

The Columbus Crew has sold more than 2,700 new season-ticket packages since this time a year ago, and it can thank the upcoming U.S.-Mexico World Cup qualifier at Crew Stadium for nearly 20 percent of that total.

But the Crew still has a lot of ground to cover to reach its goal of 10,000 season tickets. New owner Anthony Precourt said last week the season-ticket base stands at around 7,000, and he listed hitting the 10,000 mark as one his top priorities for the club.

Link to Source

Precourt discusses stadium renovations

Crew Stadium needs more than corporate money, however. America’s first soccer-specific facility has been lapped by the likes of Sporting Park and Red Bull Arena when it comes to amenities. Precourt knows that and already is working on improvements. He’ll start by spending around $200,000 to replace bleachers with 2,400 seats on the stadium’s east side and said he’s committed to “benchmarking ourselves with our peers in MLS.

Link to Source

MLS purchases Chivas USA

Major League Soccer on Thursday announced it has purchased Chivas USA from Jorge Vergara and Angelica Fuentes. Effective immediately, MLS will assume responsibility for operating the club. MLS will appoint an experienced sports executive shortly to serve as the president of Chivas USA during this interim period. Head coach Wilmer Cabrera, who joined the club January 9, will continue in his position and report to the new president.

Link to Source

Austin may court downtown stadium, Major League Soccer

Austin’s soccer fans may be on a long, potentially bumpy road to a downtown sports stadium and a Major League Soccer franchise, thanks to a new push by local organizers and city officials.

The piqued interest is due to a recent push by local organizers Austin FC LLC and local developer Michael Wilt, according to reports in the Austin Chronicle. At City Hall, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole is sponsoring a resolution that would direct the city to look into how economically feasible a Major League Soccer franchise would be in Austin as well as begin looking at locations for a stadium.

Link to Source

San Antonio “light years” ahead of Austin for MLS bid

Regarding Michael Wilt’s bid in Austin:

“They’re looking at the idea,” Hartman said. “I don’t think that’s any different from numerous cities around the country. The difference is…we have a stadium that’s expandable, we have community support, we have a team, we have a mayor who is very much engaged in this. I think that puts us light years ahead of wherever they are.”

Link to Source

Garber talks about Crew and Austin (separately) in MLS Q&A

Garber on Austin (when asked if better market than San Antonio):

“You know its premature for both markets. I said in a meeting that I had this past weekend, expanding in Texas is something that’s likely to happen.  If that happens, when that happens is still to be seen. We have been spending time, as our league will continue to do, to look at markets that have the right fan demographics, that have the right soccer interest, that have the right potential ownership groups, that have the right stadium plan.  We will look at any market that has those, that formula cause that’s the formula that drives success in professional sports, not just in our league, but in any league.  I’ll be at SXSW speaking at a panel next week.  I look forward to spending some time down there.  Pretty cool place.  I won’t be wearing a pin stripe suit but we’ll be talking about soccer….Mayor Michael Wilt has got some plans for a downtown stadium.  That’s interesting to us.  Clearly can’t do this right without having the right stadium plan. Mayor Cole has shown interest there to try and see whether an MLS team make sense. We will continue to track it.  San Antonio, I have been down there recently. Mayor Castro is one the great politicians of our country.  demographics of his city can embrace our sport in ways that would be special. If you just look at what the Scorpions have been able to do its an incredibly impressive organization, a fantastic ownership group. I just saw that Eva Longoria promoted some sign-in with her 8 million or 7 million twitter followers that would get behind MLS in San Antonio  I think they had about 8000 or so people … for a recent exhibition match … against FC Dallas … last weekend.  So I think there are good things happening there but we’ll see.

Garber on Crew (when asked about Cleveland):

I’ve said a lot that we need more teams in the midwest. Many years ago we had discussions about a possible team there [Cleveland], there haven’t been any discussions of late. What I would say to folks that are living in Cincinnati, the folks living in Dayton, the folks living in Cleveland, support the Crew. Great new owner in Anthony Precourt, a fabulous dynamic that exists in that market. I would describe it as a rebirth, a newfound level of interest. Gregg Berhalter is a super cool guy who’s got a lot of experience. We think he’s going to represent this great new coaching dynamic… so if you’re living in Ohio support the Crew, great legacy MLS team.

Video Source

@MLS Better expansion market Austin Texas with our growing,  innovative city or San Antonio? #AskGarber

Link to Tweet re Austin vs San Antonio

Will there ever be MLS in Cleveland? #AskGarber

Link to Tweet re Cleveland

Austin City Council approves research of MLS in ATX

From meeting minutes:

22. Approve a resolution directing the City Manager to work with appropriate stakeholders to research the feasibility of a Major League Soccer franchise locating in Austin. (Notes: SPONSOR: Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole CO 1: Mayor Lee Leffingwell CO 2: Council Member William Spelman)   Resolution No. 20140306-022 was approved on consent on Council Member Spelman’s motion, Council Member Morrison’s second on a 6-0 vote.  Mayor Leffingwell was absent.

Meeting transcript:

Item number 22, jane morgan? James morgan. >> Good morning, everybody. I’m here to discuss about austin possibly taking the bid for mls. Mls is probably one of the most intariking sports in america at the moment for one specific reason. It’s growing. And it’s growing rapidly. It creates a specific environment where the great cities can actually embrace their creativities, become part of the activity and embrace a sport culture that is progressive and moving. I think the city of austin would a perfect city for this growth. If you look at our demographics, we have two key factors that have — two key factors that really help succeed for any of the professional sports teams, like cities of portland and seattle we have a growing tech culture and a more youthful culture, which is pushing for them to — pushing between 30,000 and 64,000 fans showing up for each game. We actually have the same demographics of that, but we also have a large hispanic based backgrounds that pushes teams like dallas and in houston to actually fill the stadium. But point of that, saying that we can fill a stadium and fill the fan base, is that we can have a chance to really build more strong leaderships within the east austin community. And that’s where I really see this as a real chance for our culture to do. We have in east and north austin we have a large hispanic population who need positive role models and soccer is one of the main key successes that we can really use to build proper leadership roles because unlike most other sports, the collegiate college players who actually become mls players generally come from schools such as duke, harvard, yale. They generally have zero criminal backgrounds or criminal accidents such as you see in the n.F.L. And other major sports. And they really have a chance to build these positive role models that you can proceed by going through education and pursuing sports and combining the two together to become a bright citizen. I see this a possibility and a chance really for austin to help mobilize our disadvantaged youth and hopefully bring a professional sports team to austin, texas. >> Cole: Thank you. I appreciate your comments. We also have signed up clayton matthews, michael wilkes and brandon balladin, not desiring to speak, but registered in favor of the item. Council, that concludes our consent agenda.

Link to Original Source

City Council Minutes (PDF) – see item 22

City Council Meeting Transcript (PDF) – search for “soccer”

Garber confirms MLS is researching Austin as a viable market

“Expanding — that’s likely going to happen,” Garber said in a press conference. “Where that happens, when that happens, is something that remains to be seen.”

According to Garber, the league will conduct research to evaluate whether Austin has the fan demographics, soccer interests, potential ownership groups and stadium plan to successfully support an MLS team. Garber said ideally, a stadium should be located within the urban core of the city.

Link to Source

Crew sign TV deal with Time Warner Cable

Link to an original source about the TV deal

The Time Warner deal is derided. One recent source commented:

The worst. TV. deal. ever. results in, like, 14 people being able to watch games for the next two years. Was Precourt trying to snuff out the red-hot passion of the Nordecke faithful? Let’s just say he wasn’t not doing that.

Another source said:

The team (or the league… or its broadcast partner(s)… it’s not exactly clear who’s responsible) has instituted a 75 mile radius to black out all Crew games on MLS Live and MLS Direct Kick. Home and, inexplicably, away.  How blacking out a road game makes any sense whatsoever is some kind of Neil deGrasse Tyson stuff.  This means that if you live within 75 miles of Crew Stadium you can only watch games on TWC, every other option will be blacked out.

Yet another source says:

So if you’re a Crew fan who is hoping to watch your team locally on television, you are firmly SOL if you aren’t a Time Warner subscriber.  By signing with Time Warner Cable and instituting this harsh blackout policy, the Columbus Crew effectively cut off a huge portion of their local fanbase from watching the team play.  What’s more, there is only one Crew game on the national television schedule this season.  To make it all the more unnerving, FC Dallas, another Time Warner team, does not black out their games on MLS Live. Why does Columbus have a blackout policy but Dallas does not?  It’s a serious question that incredibly at this time nobody seems to have a decent answer to.

Univision wants to integrate MLS into its “brand and culture”

Univision received plenty. For the next eight years, it will own Friday nights, exclusively broadcasting a minimum of 34 games each season on UniMás at 7 p.m. or 11 p.m. ET. It has the exclusive rights to two matches in the opening round of the playoffs, and the Spanish-language rights for MLS Cup, the MLS All-Star Game and all U.S. men’s national team matches. Univision also obtained digital rights across all platforms and mobile devices for the games it televises.

Besides the $15 million annual rights fee, MLS is receiving increased coverage on Univision’s networks, including two hours of “ancillary programming” around many of its Friday night telecasts and a weekly Sunday, one-hour MLS wrapup show. Univision also has pledged to include an MLS segment in all of its sports news shows and make MLS players a part of telecasts of its non-sports events, like the Latin Grammy Awards.

“Univision really wants to integrate MLS and U.S. Soccer into the network brand and culture,” Stevenson said. “That’s a big boost to our strategy to reach Hispanic audiences.”

Said Rodriguez: “I told MLS that ‘The Big U’ would be a very helpful resource for the league growing its business. We want to give the U.S. national team the same level of coverage that we give the Mexican national team. We believe that if the planets align, the U.S. is going to host the World Cup in 2026 or 2030.”

Link to Source

Crew SC announces rebranding

Mayor Coleman:

“I don’t want to hear you ever call this team again the Crew,” Coleman said. “This change is important. The future of Columbus and the future of the Columbus Crew SC are tied together. We’re joined at the hip, and the success of the Columbus Crew SC and the city of Columbus, we need each other to succeed.”

Anthony Precourt:

“One of our brand pillars is being authentically Columbus,” Precourt said. “We’re trying to showcase Jeni’s Ice Cream and Columbus Brewing Company and other microbrews. We’re going to create experiences within the stadium that showcase what this great city has to offer.”

Primary Source

Additional Source #1

Additional Source #2

Austin Aztex announce three MLS teams (including the Crew) will play a February tournament in Austin

D.C. United, Columbus Crew SC and FC Dallas will join the Aztex for the ATX Pro Challenge at Mike A. Myers Stadium on the University of Texas campus, the American-Statesman learned Saturday night.

The preseason event — Austin’s first experience with top-quality U.S. soccer — will consist of a semifinal doubleheader Friday, Feb. 13, and a championship and consolation match Feb. 15. The first-day pairings are Crew SC vs. FC Dallas and D.C. United vs. the Aztex.

Link to Source

Loughnane talks about successes and accomplishing financial goals

“We wanted to assimilate into the corporate community and we wanted to assimilate into our fan culture,” he told The Dispatch. “I think if I had to measure those things very broadly speaking, I think we’ve done a really nice job of working rapidly toward accomplishing those goals.”

“Loughnane continued a longstanding Crew policy of not disclosing season-ticket numbers other than to say the club is trending to increase its totals by a thousand members per year. Under Crew owner Precourt Sports Ventures, the team has shifted the focus from focusing exclusively on season-ticket totals to selling out Crew Stadium.

This past season, the Crew set a team record with five sellouts and established a single-season attendance record of 286,976 fans, but only 9,074 were on hand for the first home playoff game since 2010. It was the lowest home playoff crowd in Crew history.”

Link to Source

After two years of diminishing Spanish language outreach, Spanish announcements and coverage are stopped

Spanish language outreach vanished by 2015. Journalist Nino Torres @espnino74, former Crew SC writer for mlssoccer.com, told @knaas:

“When I started, The person who held the position was NAME REDACTED, but he accepted a job offer in CITY REDACTED. NAME REDACTED took over from 2013 till the end of 2014. Since 2015 there is no one in charge nor a dedicated department to reach the Latino (or any other) community.

When they did the rebrand, I asked Andy Loughnane if there was an specific plan to engage the Latino Fan base, and he said that the new  batch included “every single fan”, which clearly is not the case.

I wrote all the Spanish content for the Club in 2012, but in 2013 I started to write for the MLS in Spanish, so they just used that content. In 2014 I started to write only in English. That was the year the Spanish content started to vanish until Completely disappeared in 2015.

English content remains the same, more video now.

There’s no email, nor official communication. The Spanish Content just disappeared.

I’m not sure but you can ask NAME REDACTED about the Spanish announcements at the games. I’m almost positive that no longer exists.”

In a long interview, Precourt drinks beer (not joking) and discusses Mapfre and Columbus

Precourt on his purchase of the Crew:

I saw an opportunity. You know we studied MLS for awhile, and we looked at opportunities. And I saw a real opportunity here [Columbus] as far as sports saturation and I saw a real path to the Crew being successful if we did some things to improve the fan experience, to improve the brand, the relevance, the product on the field. I think there’s a lot of good ingredients here in Columbus. In my life I’ve moved for the opportunity a number of times – I’ve lived on the east coast, on the west coast, I’ve lived in Texas, I live in California now, but geography wasn’t as important to me as being in a place where people care and there’s room for the club to grow.

Link to Source

Precourt says his investment is about enterprise value rather than cash flow – is in Columbus for the long term

Q: What potential returns do MLS teams offer as an alternative investment?

A: I’d be wary to forecast returns. The business is more about enterprise value appreciation than operating cash flow. It’s not a cash-flow positive business or a company that creates a lot of income.

I’m excited about the future of the Columbus Crew SC, and I’m excited about the future of MLS. I wouldn’t be here as a business person if I didn’t believe in the future. But it’s hard to quantify.

Q: So you’re here for the long haul?

A: Yes, we’re here for the very long haul.

Link to Source

San Antonio agrees to buy Toyota Field to bring MLS to the city

City and county officials in San Antonio have agreed to purchase Toyota Field from San Antonio Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman with one eye on bringing Major League Soccer to the city.

Link to Source

City and Bexar County officials announced they have reached a joint agreement to buy Toyota Field from current San Antonio Scorpions owner Gordon Hartman, pending official approval next week by the city and county.

Link to Source

Crew business metrics reportedly very good

“45 percent spike in sponsorship revenue from a year earlier”

“double-digit” growth in merchandise sales”

“Loughnane said the growth was driven by the deal with Mapfre that put its name on the 19,968-seat former Crew Stadium, along with Abbott’s EAS Sports Nutrition picking up rights to the Crew SC training center at Obetz and becoming the club’s official sports nutrition provider.”

“added 1,000 new season tickets and saw an increase in paid tickets of 8 percent”

Link to Original Source

Crew Supporter Group La Turbina Amarilla denied tickets to Nordecke for Montreal playoff match

In an interview in November 2017, Blanca J. Garcia tells @knaas that the La Turbina Amarilla supporter group was denied tickets to the Nordecke, and sat in the south end of the stadium for the home playoff game against Montreal. This is in keeping with the other reports we have of Spanish language marketing and outreach declining and being completely stopped in 2015 (see January 1, 2015).

See also the entry for November 24, 2017 for more on this interview.

MLS heaps a huge amount of praise onto the Crew

When discussing Crew SC’s importance to Columbus, it is necessary to first understand Columbus, the city in which I’ve spent most of my life. Columbus is quintessentially Midwestern, in layout,  population temperament, and ice cream selection. It will never be New York or Los Angeles, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t keep occasionally trying to compete, sometimes at the cost of its own communities. At the same time, Columbus has almost always been a place where those who have been displaced—by urgent desire or by circumstances beyond their control—can resettle and find comfort.

Link to Source

Precourt still thinks he’s a Green Bay Packer

How connected do you feel to Columbus at this point?

I feel extremely connected I mean I feel like part of the family.  I mean again, Crew now stands for one big family.

We’re here to win.  One of the reasons I cite the Green Bay Packers is they are globally relevant, they are nationally relevant, for a small market.  Why are they relevant? Because they win, on a consistent basis.  And they’ve got great fans.  And I think our community has great fans…We want to be that type of club, that’s the type of club that we strive for…

Link to Source

San Antonio city council votes to purchase Toyota Field

Today, City Council voted unanimously to approve multiple items required to move forward with the purchase of the Toyota Field.

Councilman Mike Gallagher remarked: “This is a special day for San Antonio. I deeply appreciate the help of Gordon Hartman, Bexar County, Spurs Sports and Entertainment, and my fellow Council members for their efforts in securing the purchase of Toyota Field. Taking an existing facility and expanding its capabilities is a great course of action to take, rather than building a new facility from the ground up. MLS is already a part of our lives here in San Antonio. Our residents are enthusiastic fans, and we would do well to bring MLS to our entire community.”

Link to Source

The Crew announce there is a waiting list for some season tickets for the 2016 season

Thank you for your interest in our most in demand memberships for 2016. Please fill out the fields below and a Crew SC Membership Account Executive will contact you within 24 business hours to confirm your entry into our waiting list.

The site’s meta-data show that it was created in August, 2015, and modified in January, 2016:

<meta property=”article:published_time” content=”2015-08-11T11:47:32-04:00″ />

<meta property=”article:modified_time” content=”2016-01-25T13:07:29-05:00″ />

Link to Source

Business metrics and season tickets are very good, according to the SI Ambition Rankings

• How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2015?

From 2014 to 2015 our season ticket base grew by over 1,000 FSEs (full-season equivalents). In addition to growth from ’14, we anticipate that our season ticket base will increase another 1,500 FSEs from 2015 to 2016.

• How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

Including technical staff, the front office has 95 full-time employees. This number has grown by approximately five employees across last year via additions on the academy and first-team staff.

• Other miscellaneous notes:

– Sold stadium naming rights prior to start of 2015 MLS season to MAPFRE Insurance (first time in club history).

– Sold training facility naming rights prior to start of 2015 MLS season to EAS (first time in club history).

– Transitioned to new food and beverage provider (Levy Restaurants) prior to start of 2015 MLS Season and grew food and beverage per caps by 20% without taking a price increase.

– Increased year-over-year paid attendance by 8% in 2015.

– Set stadium records for turnstile attendance (actual bodies in the building) for both regular season and playoffs during 2015 season.

– Established new club (and stadium) single-season and combined regular + postseason sellout records (7).

– MAPFRE Stadium won Sports Turf Managers Association Field of the Year in 2015.

– Sponsorship Revenues grew by 35% year-over-year from ’14 to ‘15.

Link to Source

San Antonio group will face financial penalties if no MLS franchise

Spurs Sports and Entertainment (SSE) chipped in an extra $3m that also goes to Hartman’s nonprofit, in return for a 20-year lease on the facility and its training complex. Their annual rent is a modest $100,000 and they agreed to spend $1m on upgrades. If they do not secure an MLS franchise in the next six years they will start incurring penalties of up to $5m owed to the city and county.

Link to Source

Garber mentions Austin as an expansion location

The Texas capital would be the smallest market in MLS. It ranks 39th overall, just below Greenville, S.C., and West Palm Beach, Fla. Its USL team, the Aztex, is taking the season off after its House Park stadium was damaged by floods last year. There’s political interest but no potential ownership, at least publicly. Nevertheless, Garber mentioned Austin last week, so it’s mentioned here as well. Institutions like the University of Texas and SXSW certainly boost the city’s profile, and the fact that it’s less than two hours from San Antonio might leave some hoping it’s a viable south Texas option. But Austin is the least likely expansion site among the cities Garber referenced.

Link to Source

Loughnane claims “millions and millions” spent on stadium upgrades; Crew in line for state money for Obetz facility

If the funds are approved, they will be the first significant public dollars received by the Crew since the team was purchased by Anthony Precourt in July 2013. Loughnane said Precourt has since spent “millions and millions” to upgrade Mapfre Stadium and the team’s Obetz facility, and that the new field would serve a region “starved for soccer-specific facilities, particularly all-weather facilities.”

Link to Source

More mentions of Garber including Austin in list

Reid Laymance – “St. Louis and Sacramento leaders of the pack for MLS expansion, Don Garber says. Others: Detroit, San Diego, San Antonio and Austin. 2020” Link to Original Tweet

Alexander Abnos – “Asked to give an expansion priority, Garber says: “Detroit, San Diego, San Antonio, Austin, and I’d be remiss to not point out Cincinnati.”Link to Original Tweet

Hank Winnicki – “MLS commish Don Garber says cities being considered for expansion: Detroit, San Diego, San Antonio, Austin, Cincinnati.” Link to Original Tweet

Kevin Lyttle – “No surprise here, but Austin @AustinAztex ranks 6th on #MLS commish Don Garber’s expansion list, one spot behind S.A. Top 3: STL, SAC, DET” Link to Original Tweet

Jim Lefko – “MLS expansion story update from commish Don Garber on San Antonio & Austin: https://t.co/6pqt6cfcZf” Link to Original Tweet

Cincinnati Soccer Talk comments on Garber’s failure to mention Cincinnati among expansion locales

On April 14th, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber made an official appearance in the city of Sacramento to address future league expansion. While speaking at a supporters event, Garber all but issued an invitation for USL club Sacramento Republic FC to join the MLS. Throughout his speech Garber mentioned other cities with MLS potential such as St. Louis, Detroit, San Antonio, San Diego and Austin. Many fans including myself were a little disappointed, but not shocked that FC Cincinnati was not mentioned.

Link to Source

“Austin isn’t ready for pro soccer”

A group of investors including Bobby Epstein, CEO of Circuit of The Americas, and Rene van de Zande, owner of the Austin Aztex minor-league soccer team, has been trying to bring an MLS team to Austin. But they face a number of obstacles. To start, Major League Soccer has said it wants its teams to have stadiums in downtown locations easily accessible by public transit. Currently, Austin has no such facility. The lack of a stadium for a minor-league soccer team was the main reason the Aztex went into hiatus. Aztex management continue to look for a stadium site, but they will have to move fast if they want to be back in action for the 2017 season.

Link to Source

Anthony Precourt LOVES Columbus on the Massive Report Podcast

With the rebranding it was really about being authentically Columbus. It was about putting Columbus back in the badge. We play for Columbus… We feel really strongly about that, that tapping the civic pride of this community is important. I grew up in Denver, Colorado, really strong sense of civic pride around all their sports teams that was ingrained in me at a young age. That’s the plan, that’s my view, is that wearing the city flag and the colors was showing the community our commitment. We took our team roster photo down on the bridge with the backdrop of downtown and with Mayor Ginther. We take this seriously.

I’ll just say for the record, we weren’t doing this as a merch sales driving initiative. We’re doing this really, truly, authentically for Columbus to show our commitment to our city. That’s what we’re working every day to do. We’re trying to showcase local products in our stadium with the food and beverage experience. We’re trying to play for Columbus. We were the first team to win a professional championship for the city. We were the first club to build a soccer specific stadium for this city. So we’re just trying to highlight what we do for this city. We think it’s an emerging city, a millennial city. We think we’re a part of what’s happening in Columbus.

Link to Source

Barrett sends stadium survey to Columbus Crew fans

Columbus Crew SC, the Major League Soccer team that has operated in Columbus since 1996, has retained Barrett Sports Group, LLC, a nationally recognized sports management consulting firm, to evaluate the potential demand for a new multi-purpose soccer stadium in Columbus. BSG has conducted similar studies in major markets throughout the country. As you may know, MAPFRE Stadium is the oldest soccer stadium in Major League Soccer. Crew SC is in the preliminary stages of assessing the potential demand for the development of a new stadium in Columbus.

Precourt says he’s tired of fans’ “insecurities” about relocation

The survey is just one step in a 100-step process, Precourt said, but it’s not one that will likely lead the Crew out of town. The mention of the team potentially moving didn’t sit well with its leader.

“I don’t really have a comment on that,” he said. “I’ve shown my commitment to Columbus. We wore the city’s colors this year on the pitch. We put Columbus back in our badge. I’m tired of the insecurities. We’re playing for Columbus.”

Link to Original Source

Also important: “The Crew reported a single-season attendance record, and Precourt said season-ticket numbers continue to climb.”

USL owner Bobby Epstein says Austin has a “stadium problem”

While the pulse of MLS has quickened, there’s barely a heartbeat for pro soccer in Austin. The financially troubled Aztex, who suspended operations for the 2016 United Soccer League season while they sought a stadium solution, still don’t have any concrete answers.

Majority investor Bobby Epstein told the American-Statesman in a brief statement Friday that he had no updates or information to share and repeated his “no stadium, no team” mantra. “Austin needs a stadium,” he said.

Link to Source

Austin blogger Josh Babetski says that MLS contracts Barrett to survey demand for MLS in Austin

In December, members of the Austin soccer community received an email invitation from Major League Soccer. In it, they disclosed that they hired the Barrett Sports Group to conduct a survey as one part of a larger evaluation of Austin as a market for an MLS team.

Link to Source

Barrett Sports Group, LLC has been hired by Major League Soccer to evaluate the market demand and financial feasibility of the Austin, Texas market to serve as the home of an MLS team.

Link to Source – a March 23 2017 date  is in the website metadata (a copy of the HTML source has been archived)

Agent/lawyer Bret Adams loses lawsuit vs George Karl

Adams and his history in the sports industry are relevant because of an open letter he published to Ginther and Fischer (see December 7, 2017).

Adams attempted to persuade the Court that it is standard in the industry for an agent to be paid through the duration of his client’s contract and employment term. Yet, he failed to submit any evidence beyond his own testimony.

Link to Source

The MLS Expansion deadline is January 31, 2017

The league acknowledged ownership groups from 10 markets have publicly expressed interest in securing an MLS expansion team: Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa/St. Petersburg.

Interested expansion owners must submit applications by Jan. 31, 2017.  After review, a series of in-person meetings will take place during the first and second quarters of 2017.

Link to Original Source

San Antonio officially submits expansion bid

The ownership group could be key for San Antonio, as MLS will be judging applications based on ownership, a stadium and community support. While San Antonio meets all the credentials, competition is stiff with 11 other cities promising brand new stadiums: Cities like San Diego, Tampa Bay, St. Louis and Indianapolis.

Link to Source

In Ambition Rankings, Grant Wahl says Mapfre feels like a high school stadium; 2017 season ticket forecast is down

Mapfre Stadium is historic in its own way, the first soccer-specific stadium in MLS. But in 2017 it feels like a high school facility, which is why Columbus needs to do something about building a new home for the team.

While Crew SC season ticket membership has experienced significant growth across the last four seasons, we are forecasting an overall year-over-year reduction in FSE’s for the 2017 season.

Link to Source

Garber speaks with Wahl at SXSW (Austin) – Precourt was there too

Really good conversation with MLS commissioner Don Garber at #SXSW. Thanks to everyone who came! (📷@SeanDennisonMLS)

Link to Wahl Acknowledging Conversation w Garber

According to Wahl, Anthony Precourt was also at SXSW: “Now that I think about it, last time I saw Anthony Precourt was at SXSW this year … in Austin.Link to Wahls Tweet about Precourt

The MLS in Austin blog also mentions Precourt at the Garber event at SXSW

Link to a video of Garber and Wahl at SXSW

Don Garber weighs in on Austin’s stadium issue

With a sizable and diverse population, Austin would fit in among MLS expansion candidates and, as a market, could have more to offer than some of its competitors. However, one of the reasons it is not among the 12 cities currently being considered for an expansion franchise is its stadium situation, which has affected professional soccer.

Link to Source

Loughnane states his goal is to sell out all 17 home games

The Crew has a goal to sell out all 17 regular-season home games. It’s one the club won’t achieve in 2017, as 15,023 was the announced attendance for a chilly home opener against Chicago and 11,067 attended last Saturday’s game against Portland. (The official capacity of Mapfre Stadium is 19,968.) Still, Loughnane said, the club hopes to set attendance and home sellout records for a fourth straight season. Last year, the team’s average attendance was 17,125 and it sold out six games.

Link to Source

Loughnane stops tweeting

Columbus Crew SC President of Business Operations Andy Loughnane – a regular tweeter – stops publishing tweets after this date, with two exceptions: an August 10th 2017 parking update, and a “thank you” to supporters on October 31st 2017.

Speculation: is this when Loughnane learns of the plans regarding Austin? Did PSV issue a social media lockdown to prevent accidentally mentioning the proposed move?

Precourt reportedly still on expansion committee

An MLS spokesman declined The Enquirer’s Thursday request for comment. But considering Crew SC investor-operator Anthony Precourt is one of five MLS owners on the league’s expansion committee, it seems unlikely that word of FC Cincinnati’s various happenings next week wouldn’t reach the league’s New York City headquarters.

Link to Source

Twitter user meets Austin analyst in Chicago airport

Twitter user posts that he met an analyst working for an underwriter, who in turn was working with an Austin based buyer of the Columbus Crew SC while in a Chicago airport. The person posts “You know he’s selling to an investor in Austin, right?” on June 14, 2017. Chicago is where Dave Greeley’s office is located.

Link to the Tweet (full conversation is illuminating)

Mike Malo named VP of Business Development at Austin-based firm Umbel

Austin-based data management platform Umbel named Spurs VP/Brand & Marketing MIKE MALO VP/Business Development. The Spurs were an Umbel client. Malo also has worked with the Eagles, D-backs and Crew. He will focus on strategic partnerships with leagues and teams as business-side analytics continue to grow in importance. The arrival of Malo also extends a leadership transition for Umbel following the elevation in April of President LISA PEARSON to CEO following the departure of Founder HIGINIO MAYCOTTE to spinoff data operation Pilosa. Maycotte remains Umbel Exec Chair. Malo: “Having that deep sports industry experience was a missing piece for them before, and there’s a huge opportunity now in front us in helping teams and leagues leverage first-party customer data.”

Link to Source

Crew sends a season ticket member feedback survey via email

As the second half of the season heats up, Columbus Crew SC would like to thank you for your continued support in 2017! In order to enhance the Season Ticket Member experience we would like to hear your valued opinion on your experiences this season.

Our goal is to continually improve on those experiences, so that each match you attend is more positive than the previous. To help us understand what we need to improve, we ask that you take a few moments to complete a brief survey on your Season Ticket Member experiences this season.

In appreciation for your responses, everyone who completes the survey will be entered to win lunch with a Crew SC player!.

We look forward to seeing you back at MAPFRE Stadium soon!

deMause is highly critical of the MLS financial model, calls it a ‘Ponzi Scheme’

If Garber’s long-term strategy for the league doesn’t exactly make sense, the endless cycle of expansion does: If you can’t make money either of the old-fashioned or sustainable ways, you might as well recruit a new batch of suckers to boost your bottom line in the short run. It’s a marginally more respectable version of the same business model that the owners of the American Basketball Association—not the original one, but the 1999 minor league that inherited the red-white-and-blue ball and little else—happened upon when it decided to start issuing franchises to anyone with a $10,000 check, with predictably chaotic results.

Link to Source

Richard Suttle sends email to Austin City Council & Mayor citing NY times article about MLS expansion

Most of Suttle’s prompts drew no public response from council members. On Aug. 8, he emailed council members and Mayor Steve Adler a New York Times article about MLS expansion and disclosed, “I represent Major League Soccer. What is not mentioned in these articles is that Austin is a candidate for MLS. I will be contacting you soon to discuss the opportunity for our city.”

Link to Source

USL announces return to Austin

The United Soccer League, one of the most prominent Division II leagues in the world, announced on Wednesday the league would return to Austin, Texas for the 2019 season. Circuit of The Americas Chairman Bobby Epstein will lead the organization after taking majority ownership in the club, and a new soccer-specific venue at the Circuit of The Americas has been approved by the USL to become the club’s new home.

Link to Original Source

The Aztex also plan to change their name (see also Sep 1, 2017 trademark application)

Richard Suttle clarifies to Austin city council difference between MLS and USL

Later on Aug. 9, Suttle wrote to council members: “Although today’s announcement about soccer at COTA is exciting for our city, it is not the project I would like to visit with you about. I represent Major League Soccer … MLS is the top-tier league in the U.S. We have an unbelievable opportunity.”

Suttle said Tuesday he was making a delineation between the Division 2 USL and MLS.

“Many people were confused about the levels of (U.S.) soccer. I needed to clear that up,” he added Wednesday. “Our city has never had a major league team, and there is a learning curve to the benefits.”

Link to Source

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg prioritizes MLS over AAA baseball

“Nirenberg says he’ll proudly support a local minor baseball team but his priority for sports franchises is securing a major league soccer team.

“We have a soccer fandom and a media market that rivals any in the southern United States,” Nirenberg added.

San Antonio is one of 12 cities being eyed by Major League Soccer for a potential new team. The city currently has a minor league soccer team that plays at Toyota Field.”

Link to Source

MLS trademarks “Austin Athletic”


Goods and ServicesIC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: fitted plastic films known as skins for covering and providing a scratch proof barrier or protection for electronic devices, namely, MP3 players, mobile telephones, smart telephones, tablets, laptop, and wireless speakers; computer and video game software and programs; magnets; sunglasses, pre-recorded DVDs in the field of soccer; downloadable image files containing artwork, text, audio, video, games, internet weblinks in the field of soccer; downloadable video clips from soccer games via mobile communication devices; computer keyboards; mouse pads; computer memory devices; blank USB flash drives.

IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: posters; decals; trading cards; stickers; bumper stickers; printed paper signs; printed media guides relating to a professional soccer team; souvenir soccer programs; yearbooks in the field of soccer; printed event admission tickets; calendars; paper mats for beer glasses; photo prints; magazines featuring information in the field of soccer; paper hangtags; pencils; notebooks; binders

IC 025. US 022 039. G & S: t-shirts; fleece tops; jerseys; hats; caps; visors; beanies; shorts; pants, sweat suits; jackets; hooded sweatshirts; scarves, gloves, socks, headbands, wristbands, ponchos, baby bibs not made of paper, infant and toddler clothing, namely, one-piece clothing, overalls, socks, and dresses; sleepwear, loungewear, slippers

IC 028. US 022 023 038 050. G & S: toy figurines; soccer ball bags; soccer balls; plush toys; puzzles; toy foam novelty items, namely, foam heads and fingers; foosball tables and figurines; golf accessories, namely, golf balls, divot repair tools, bag tags, ball markers, tees, gloves; Christmas tree ornaments; building blocks toys; game tables, tailgating games, namely, bag toss games, washer game in the nature of a target game, tumbler towers in the nature of a stackable tumbling game, and game tables for tailgates; : fitted plastic films known as skins for covering and providing a scratch proof barrier or protection for electronic devices, namely, gaming devices, namely, hand-held video gaming devices and video game consoles

IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: Entertainment services, namely, soccer exhibitions rendered live in a stadium, and through the media of television and radio and via the internet; provision of entertainment in the nature of non-downloadable pre-recorded film clips from soccer games, presented via mobile communication devices; provision of information in the field of soccer via the internet and mobile devices

Standard Characters Claimed.

Link to USPTO Source

MLS files for trademark of “Austin FC”


Goods and ServicesIC 009. US 021 023 026 036 038. G & S: fitted plastic films known as skins for covering and providing a scratch proof barrier or protection for electronic devices, namely, MP3 players, mobile telephones, smart telephones, tablets, laptop, and wireless speakers; computer and video game software and programs; magnets; sunglasses, pre-recorded DVDs in the field of soccer; downloadable image files containing artwork, text, audio, video, games, internet weblinks in the field of soccer; downloadable video clips from soccer games via mobile communication devices; computer keyboards; mouse pads; computer memory devices; blank USB flash drives

IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: posters; decals; trading cards; stickers; bumper stickers; printed paper signs; printed media guides relating to a professional soccer team; souvenir soccer programs; yearbooks in the field of soccer; printed event admission tickets; calendars; paper mats for beer glasses; photo prints; magazines featuring information in the field of soccer; paper hangtags; pencils; notebooks; binders

IC 025. US 022 039. G & S: t-shirts; fleece tops; jerseys; hats; caps; visors; beanies; shorts; pants, sweat suits; jackets; hooded sweatshirts; scarves, gloves, socks, headbands, wristbands, ponchos, baby bibs not made of paper, infant and toddler clothing, namely, one-piece clothing, overalls, socks, and dresses; sleepwear, loungewear, slippers

IC 028. US 022 023 038 050. G & S: toy figurines; soccer ball bags; soccer balls; plush toys; puzzles; toy foam novelty items, namely, foam heads and fingers; foosball tables and figurines; golf accessories, namely, golf balls, divot repair tools, bag tags, ball markers, tees, gloves; Christmas tree ornaments; building blocks toys; game tables, tailgating games, namely, bag toss games, washer game in the nature of a target game, tumbler towers in the nature of a stackable tumbling game, and game tables for tailgates; : fitted plastic films known as skins for covering and providing a scratch proof barrier or protection for electronic devices, namely, gaming devices, namely, hand-held video gaming devices and video game consoles

IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: Entertainment services, namely, soccer exhibitions rendered live in a stadium, and through the media of television and radio and via the internet; provision of entertainment in the nature of non-downloadable pre-recorded film clips from soccer games, presented via mobile communication devices; provision of information in the field of soccer via the internet and mobile devices

Standard Characters Claimed

Link to USPTO Source

Andy Loughnane dodges questions about stadium survey results, and says season ticket sales are down

“We’re nearing the finish line on our preliminary findings resulting from the marketplace survey,” he said. “It’s been an exhaustive study and period of analysis. There are other simultaneous efforts being made in concert with respect to critical, interesting questions within that study”

When asked if something may be released for public consumption, Loughnane demurred.

“We will advance in a thoughtful and thorough manner when the time comes,” he said. “There is significant analysis that lies ahead and as I said, MAPFRE Stadium is the home of Crew SC.”

“Along with the decrease in attendance from 2016 — 12 percent — season ticket memberships dropped by 15 percent.”

Original Source

Pinto da Silva of Austin Aztex organization trademarks “Austin Bold FC”


IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: Entertainment services, namely, organizing, and conducting soccer games and exhibitions; educational services, namely, providing instructional clinics, camps, workshops and seminars in the field of soccer; fan club services; organizing, arranging, and conducting soccer exhibitions; provision of entertainment in the nature of non-downloadable pre-recorded film clips from soccer games, presented via mobile communication devices; provision of information in the field of soccer via the internet and mobile devices; entertainment services comprising soccer competitions and exhibitions; Entertainment and educational services in the nature of ongoing television and radio programs in the field of soccer and rendering live soccer games and exhibitions; the production and distribution of radio and television shows featuring soccer games, soccer events and programs in the field of soccer; conducting and arranging soccer clinics and camps, coaches clinics and camps, and soccer games; entertainment services in the nature of personal appearances by a costumed mascot or dance team at soccer games and exhibitions, clinics, camps, promotions, and other soccer-related events, special events and parties; entertainment services, namely, providing a website featuring multimedia material in the nature of television highlights, video recordings, video stream recordings, interactive video highlight selections, radio programs, radio highlights, and audio recordings in the field of soccer; providing news and information in the nature of statistics and trivia in the field of soccer; providing online computer games; electronic publishing services, namely, publication of magazines, guides, newsletters, coloring books, and game schedules of others on-line through the Internet, all in the field of soccer; providing an online computer database in the field of soccer; Providing a website featuring information in the field of soccer.

(APPLICANT) Pinto da Silva, Roberto INDIVIDUAL BRAZIL 8604 Priest River Drive Round Rock TEXAS 78681

Link to USPTO Source

Loughnane flies to Texas

Columbus Crew SC President of Business Operations Andy Loughnane is recognized on flight from Columbus to Atlanta, and then Atlanta to Houston.

Delta 2419 (CMH-ATL)

Delta 1799 (ATL-HOU)

The Crew Clinches a playoff spot

“After a year away from the postseason, the Columbus Crew are headed back to the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Crew took care of D.C. United by a comfortable 2-0 score line in their home finale at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday night to seal their spot in the MLS postseason party. It was also the club’s 12th home win of the season, which is a franchise record.”

Link to Source

Federico Higuain signs one-year extension with Columbus Crew SC

“”We are pleased to announce that Federico Higuain will be in Black & Gold as a Designated Player for the 2018 season,” Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter said in a statement. “Federico has been instrumental in establishing our style of play over the last four years and played a significant role in helping the club secure playoff berths in three of those four seasons.”

Link to Source

Work begins in earnest on PSV-owned mls2atx.com AstroTurf site

Response headers from mls2atx.com indicate that WordPress was installed by October 4th, 2017 at the latest.

The css file “http://mls2atx.com/wp-content/themes/Avada-Child-Theme/style.css?ver=4.8.3” contains a “last modified date” of Wed, 04 Oct 2017 16:34:27 GMT

Pictorial evidence of the response headers has been documented.

Thanks to @knass for digging through these records and making this discovery.

The mls2atx.com AstroTurf site’s crest on white background image is finalized

Response headers from mls2atx.com indicate that the header image was last modified on October 10th.

The png image file “http://mls2atx.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Crest_WhiteBackground-1200×1274.png” contains a “last modified date” of Fri, 06 Oct 2017 00:04:35 GMT.

Pictorial evidence of the response headers has been documented.

Thanks to @knass for digging through these records and making this discovery.

The mls2atx.com AstroTurf site header image is finalized

Response headers from mls2atx.com indicate that the header image was last modified on October 10th.

The png image file “http://mls2atx.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/mls2atxheader.png” contains a “last modified date” of Tue, 10 Oct 2017 01:25:09 GMT.

Pictorial evidence of the response headers has been documented.

Thanks to @knass for digging through these records and making this discovery.

MLS in Austin reveals a new green logo that matches the one released later by Precourt/MLS

The MLS in Austin supporters group led by blogger Josh Babetski had inside information. They knew to change their logo to be green BEFORE the new green scarves and logo were released by MLS and PSV. This, combined with the “not public” knowledge they had in February from non-public Crew insiders, indicates that MLS in Austin may be an Astroturf organization, or at the very least has a source from w/in MLS and PSV.

From the blog on Oct 16: “We did come across this shade of green we liked as an accent color. It doesn’t really collide with any EPL teams, MLS teams, or will anger Aggie or Longhorn fans for being red or burnt orange. However, it does pair nice with many of their existing color palettes.”

Link to Original Source

More quotes from that blog post implying inside knowledge held by blogger Josh Babetski that was not yet public:

“A some point soon however, MLS themselves will be here on the ground and things could start to get confusing.”

“So once we attract a team to town, what then? Well, we’ve given that some thought” – why use “attract a team to town” … they don’t assume expansion, they assume relocation.

The post metadata establishes that it was published at 10:25pm UTC <meta property=”article:published_time” content=”2017-10-16T22:25:05.105Z”>.

22:25 UTC = 17:25 CDT – in other words, this was published at 5:25pm in Texas (daylight savings taken into account). By comparison, the first PUBLIC news was published over four hours later, by Grant Wahl on Twitter, at 9:51pm CDT (10:51pm on the east coast).

MLS clarifies that Precourt is not on the expansion committee

Tweet by Ian Thomas: “New members of MLS Expansion committee; Minnesota’s Bill McGuire, Seattle’s Joe Roth & Sporting KC’s Cliff Illig https://t.co/aQY6wMUC3t” (link to tweet)

The committee as of this day is: Jonathan Kraft (Revolution), Cliff Illig (Sporting KC), Bill McGuire (Minn United), Andy Hauptman (Chicago Fire), Jay Sugarman (Phila Union), Joe Roth (Seattle Sounders).

Link to Original Source

Crew form an advisory council in Austin, including hapless blogger Josh Babetski (who admits to advanced knowledge of the move, see Oct 16 2017 and Nov 22 2017)

Crew SC ownership has formed an advisory council in Austin that includes Josh Babetski, founder of MLS in Austin, and businessman Alejandro Ruelas.

[blogger] Babetski has been tirelessly drumming up support for Major League Soccer in Austin through social media. He was the first to publicly suggest Columbus might move to Austin in a February blog.

“I tried to put two and two together, took bits and pieces of information and my opinions, and drew it out as best I could,” said Babetski, whose day job is chief operating officer of Handsome, a design innovation company. “As a soccer advocate, I’m excited that it all came down this way, but I’m also happy because it shows I wasn’t just some crazy guy behind a computer.”

Link to Source

See entries for Feb 2017, October 16, 2017, and November 22, 2017 for more on Babetski. He claims “sources” in February and published new logo and that MLS would be in Austin shortly on Oct 16, 2017, 4 hours before Wahl broke the story. Blogger Josh Babetski admitted prior knowledge on November 22, 2017.

Thousands rally in support of keeping team in Columbus

Folk hero and #SaveTheCrew spiritual leader Morgan Hughes organizes a massive rally at Columbus city hall in support of saving the Crew.

“Hughes helped welcome speakers on stage, which included: Jeni Britton Bauer, the founder of Jen’s Splendid Ice Creams; Nate DeMars, the CEO and Founder of Pursuit, a local suit company and corporate sponsor of the Crew; Jeremy Loper of 99.7 The Blitz’s morning radio show, Loper and Randi in the morning; Jess Gainor, a longtime Crew fan and #TIFOSweat legend, according to Hughes; Steve Sirk, a Crew writer; two former Crew players, Dante Washington and Mike Clark; former Ohio State basketball player and five-year Crew season-ticket holder Mark Titus, who currently writes about college basketball for The Ringer; and Jonathan “T-Bone” Smith of 97.1 The Fan”

Link To Source

Garber insists no decision has been made to move the Crew

“Garber took a question from a moderator who said that Precourt wants to move the club to Austin and the commissioner stated, “It’s not proper to say that they want to move.

“What they’re doing is evaluating what their options are to determine whether it makes sense to move to Austin or whether or not it makes sense for them to have factors that will improve their performance and stay in the city of Columbus, so no decision has been made to move to Austin.

“Sitting as a commissioner, no league, certainly no leader of a league, wants to move a club.”

Link to the Source

Crew sponsors frustrated about the potential move

“The whole thing is really bizarre. It almost seems predetermined,” said Ira Sharfin, CEO of Crew sponsor Continental Office. “It just seems shifty in a way.”

“Frankly, we had planned on this being a foundation for us in terms of our relationship with the Crew fans and the Columbus community,” Kelly said. “We’re pretty disappointed now in terms of the potential here. We were very happy with how it worked our first year, and we’re very disappointed that it may not continue.”

“Even if a local company has customers there (in a team’s relocation city), some sponsors’ customers might view their association with the team as a potential negative,” Carter said. “They might ask, ‘How could you support this franchise after what you’ve done to the fans?’”

Link to Source

MLS issues a statement regarding Bexar County Jundge Wolff’s letter

“Major League Soccer has received the letter from Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. We are in the process of reviewing the letter and preparing a formal response. Although that review is not yet complete, we strongly disagree with Judge Wolff’s assertion that we misled either him or any public official about the prospects for San Antonio acquiring an MLS expansion team.”

Link to Grant Wahl’s Tweet of the Statement

Massive Report publishes hoax emails that show Dave Greeley’s and Anthony Precourt’s contempt

Referring to whether Greeley or Precourt (AP) would be at the game on October 31, Greely said:

““AP nor I will be there,” Greeley replied. “While AP has said he may never go back to CBus, he did not say it per se, but I kind of know it. I will be back in ATX.”

The hoaxer was surprised to receive a response and elected to continue the conversation.

“Probably for the best,” the hoaxer replied. “This Save the Crew thing is getting way more attention than I initially expected. I suspect you and AP feel the same?”

Greeley’s response: “Yes. We have done prelim analytics ­ very vocal minority making large share of noise. The irony is that this group ­ inch wide and a mile deep ­ is the one being let down by the broader community and corporations. PSV is the easy target. Kind of think we have not done well with getting facts and findings out there…what do you think?

On moving, this has not been a plot all along or an epiphany one morning. Few know why.”

Massive Report’s Analysis – “The takeaways from these e-mails are multiple. Greeley states Precourt, who was rumored to be at the knockout round win in Atlanta, may never come back to Columbus. He also says the plan was not always to move the team to Austin, nor was it a quick decision and left the door open for a potential savior for the team in Columbus.”

Link to Source

Wendy’s says it will not continue Crew sponsorship in 2018

“Wendy’s has deep roots in Columbus and we are proud to support our local community,” spokeswoman Elizabeth Drake told me in an email. “Wendy’s Columbus Crew sponsorship began in 2017, supported by our local operators. We have enjoyed the partnership and would like to see the Crew continue their success in Columbus.

“However, given the uncertainty around the team’s future, and with our 2018 planning in the final stages, we decided not to renew our sponsorship for next year at this time.”

Link to Source

Crew sponsors say price of sponsorship shot up, sponsors “squeezed”

“Britton Bauer told me she believes Precourt had a plan all along to move the team and what’s happening is terrible, but she thinks it will rally the Columbus community.

“Maybe he created barriers to corporate sponsorships and didn’t work hard to bring in fans, let his team fall off the radar – all to justify the move to Austin to the MLS, and even more importantly, to our city leaders,” she said.

“He knew it would be a tough fight. If this is not true, then he ought to be working really hard to reverse that idea because it will become his legacy – not just in Columbus, but in MLS. As well as the legacy of MLS.”

Link to Source

Link to Heartland Bank Pres McComb’s Tweet re: “squeeze”

Columbus Partnership CEO Fischer expresses frustration w MLS and Precourt

“Fischer, though, expressed frustration with MLS and Precourt during a lunch-hour interview in front of about 50 chamber members Wednesday at the New Albany Country Club. But he said he still wants to make a deal to keep the Crew here.

“We’ve all said things or done things that in hindsight would have been better not to have. I don’t think anybody thinks any of the way this was handled by anybody was constructive,” Fischer said in a later interview with The Dispatch. “But I enter the meeting with the assumption that there’s an opportunity to think about what it takes to do this in Columbus.””

Link to Source

Brewdog releases statement “Brewdog wants to save the Crew”

“We would love to facilitate and be involved in a potential purchase of the Columbus Crew from it’s current ownership structure and then immediately look to sell at least half of it back to the fans through crowdfunding.”

Link to Source

Search above for previous comments about the Green Bay Packers made by Precourt. According to Twitter user @hangthadj: “In regards to the @BrewDogJames offer. I wonder if when @APrecourt said he wanted Columbus Crew to be the Green Bay Packers of MLS he knew that one day he would be the man standing in the way of actually allowing that to happen. #Crew96 #SaveTheCrew” Link to Tweet

Epstein, owner of USL Austin team, says PSV won’t return his calls

“In the meantime, Epstein said, he and his team are still waiting to hear back from Precourt Sports Ventures.

“Our general manager made a lot of calls to them and I think they either don’t like us or were worried that we were going to throw a wrench into their plan, so they didn’t take our calls. I think that is a real misperception on their part,” he said. “Hopefully they realize that now that they’ve gone through city council and we didn’t pop up with any opposition, they’ll know that we welcome their effort here.””

Link to Source

Tim Myers publishes “What’s the Truth?” report?

“In response to the recent announcement that Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV) is considering moving the Columbus Crew to Austin, TX due to underperforming business metrics, an analysis was undertaken using publicly available data and reports to investigate the recent claims by key MLS & PSV stakeholders. The primary topics of the report are organized by the sections listed below and chosen due to the presumption they might be related to the mysterious “business metrics” that MLS refuses to identify explicitly.”

Link to Report

Bret Adams says “Crew’s difficulties tapping into the private sector extend back to its inception in 1996”

“Longtime Columbus attorney and sports agent Bret Adams has an idea for a potential solution, one that is not unique given the city’s sports landscape. However, it involves one of the major corporations in Central Ohio giving up prime real estate. Nationwide Realty, the real estate development affiliate of Nationwide Insurance, owns the final 40 acres yet to be developed in the Arena District.”

Link to Source

Matt Lampson says he knows “for a fact” the Crew cut their marketing budget

On the World of Bone podcast, Matt Lampson said:

“I actually know for a fact they cut their marketing budget. As they should, if he’s going to move the team then why should he spend money to market here?”

“Ultimately, he [Precourt] lied from the get-go. It’s pretty clear that he is a disingenuous person.”

Interviewer (Bone) asks whether Precourt was fully invested in making Columbus work, Lampson says “Absolutely not.”

Link to Source

Kevin Lyttle published a timeline of Richard Suttle’s involvement with MLS and Austin city council

“MLS lobbyist Richard Suttle began pushing professional soccer to the Austin City Council in late July, records show.

Suttle sent council members links to stories about the explosive growth of professional soccer in the United States, the American-Statesman has learned from e-mails gathered and reviewed as a result of an open records request.”

Link to Source

Garber, Precourt, Ginther, and Fischer = No deal made to keep Crew in Columbus

“”We met with Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and Columbus Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt in New York today. It is clear the MLS and ownership did not come to the meeting willing to commit to staying in Columbus. We know this is heartbreaking for the dedicated fans in Columbus and across the country who have shown unwavering support for the Columbus Crew SC.”

Link to Source

Arace says #SaveTheCrew is doing itself proud

“Everyone involved understands that the case being made by Precourt and MLS is built on specious claims — central among them, that Columbus fans and local businesses are insufficient partners for the league now, after three decades. The available evidence, often brought to light by intrepid citizen-journalists, is much to the contrary.”

Link to Source

NBC Sports reports that league-wide attendance is up, TV viewership lags

“MLS averaged 22,000 in attendance for the first time in its history this season, ranked among the top seven leagues in the world. The league is set to add a second Los Angeles franchise next year, announce two expansion cities next month and at some point finalize David Beckham’s long-pending Miami club.

But viewers averaged under 300,000 for nationally televised regular-season matches, fewer than the average for a New York Yankees game on their regional sports network. Several top young Americans, such as Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie, have chosen to forego the MLS to play in Germany and test their mettle in a more demanding environment.”

Link to Source

Andy Loughnane claims to have spent twice the normal marketing budget on the first leg of the conference finals

“In total, Loughnane said, the front office has spent twice as much marketing Tuesday’s game as it would for a regular-season match. Some fans have been critical of the front office’s marketing efforts, indicating the marketing push is not what it would be in a normal playoff run, one without the threat of relocation looming.”

Also, Lamar has been putting up donated billboards to advertise the game (yeah Lamar!) – “The Columbus office for Lamar, the outdoor advertising company, donated five digital billboards at the start of the team’s playoff push with the same design it used for the 2015 playoffs.”

Link to Source

Babetski-led Austin SG bloggers clarify that they knew the PSV MLS2ATX color scheme in advance

“When we got a heads-up on the announcement, we added a matching green accent — because we asked about the colors PSV was going to use.”

Unfortunately, the Josh Babetski-led MLS in Austin bloggers failed to explain why they were given a “heads-up,” when they were given a “heads-up,” and who gave them that “heads-up”? Dave Greeley? Richard Suttle? Elizabeth Christian PR? Was it in August? July? Earlier?

Also of note, Josh Babetski’s blogging group says “We also rushed to finish the new logo and site which was over a month behind schedule.” Because they do not clarify precisely when they were informed about the potential move, and under what circumstances, it seems an awful lot like they were working towards finishing the site to coincide with the PSV announcement. Whether or not that’s the case, we still don’t know the answer to “when was they told, and by whom” about the potential move, but by their own admission we know that it was before anything was publicly announced.

If we are to believe that Josh Babetski and his group of bloggers (none of whom has been identified, and we only have Babetski’s word to go on that he isn’t the only one blogging) didn’t have inside information much earlier than the 16th of October, then it’s simple: they need to be clear about who told them, and when they told them (Greely, Elizabeth Christian PR, Precourt himself, etc.).

Link to Source

Blanca J Garcia of La Turbina Amarilla confirms to @knaas that Spanish language outreach was curtailed

@knaas: What is your role with LTA?

Blanca: I really don’t have a specific title but you can say or(g)anizer or go to person for LTA.

@knaas: do you feel you are authorized to speak on behalf of LTA and if so, is this on the record or off the record?

Blanca: Yes I am authorized to speak on LTA’s behalf and it can be on record

@knaas: Awesome.  I have communicated with a few former Crew/MLSsoccer.com employees about a slow reduction and then removal of Spanish Language outreach in 2015.  Is this also your experience?

Blanca: Yes, it was definitely better a couple years ago

@knaas: Did the group have difficulties obtaining tickets or support for activities from the Crew organization?

Blanca: We did, for the playoff game back in 2015 we were not given/sold any tickets for the Nordeck section. We were given tickets in another section .

@knaas: Has the Crew advertised or done any Spanish outreach since mid 2015 when the position was eliminated per @espnino74

Blanca: The only outreach I have seen/heard is occasional tickets to the game through the Spanish radio station and some of the Mexican stores here in Columbus.

@knaas: Dave Greeley at the MLS2ATX meeting on 11/1 claimed they would perform outreach to “all cultures of Austin” – including the Hispanic community.  This is interesting because according to @espnino74, Andy Loughnane told him “When they did the rebrand, I asked Andy Loughnane if there was an specific plan to engage the Latino Fan base, and he said that the new  batch included “every single fan”, which clearly is not the case.”

Blanca: I agree, I have not seen outreach to our community. As I stated before the few things have been done to engage or rather get people from the Hispanic community to the stadium.

@knaas: Do you think that LTA has been treated fairly by the Crew org in comparison with the other Supporter Groups?

Blanca: I have to be honest, years ago things were very different for all the supporter groups. I think because of the fact that our season ticket holder amounts were not as high as other groups we were definitely treated different. It would have been great to have more support from the Organization to get more people involved.

A summary of @knass’ investigation into business metrics

Financial Stability goals stated in 2014:

1. Stadium Sponsor

2. Jersey Sponsor

3. 10000 Season Tickets



2013 – 7000 Season Ticket Holders ; an increase of 2,700 from prior year; 3 of top 6 best ticket sellers in MLS were Crew employees, sales staff is 7th out of 19 MLS teams – Columbus Business First in March & then Anthony Precourt in July.

2014 – 1000 New Season Ticket Holders – Andy Loughnane in Columbus Dispatch.

2015 – 1000 New Season Ticket Holders, Mapfre Insurance Sponsors the stadium, Cut the entire Spanish Language Outreach program – Andy Loughnane in Sports Business Daily, Grant Wahl 2016 MLS Ambition Rankings & @espnino74.

2016 – 1500 Project New Season Ticket Holders with Two USMNT World Cup Qualifiers vs Guatemala and Mexico as the lure and added 5 employees in Academy and First-Team Staff, waiting list for season tickets.  Grant Wahl 2016 MLS Ambition Rankings, Columbus Crew SC web site.

2017 – Acura is new record setting Jersey Sponsor, increased sponsors by $1.5 million which does not appear to include Acura, cut front office staff by 5 positions, zeroed out marketing budget, cut promotions to a minimum, waiting list again for season tickets, had worst MLS home schedule of any team in last 5 years.

2017 Grant Wahl MLS Ambition Rankings, Matt Lampson World of Bone podcast, Columbus Crew SC web site, @timmyers15 report.

Final Conclusion: All 3 business goals were met before the start of 2017 season, yet business metrics failure was declared in October 2017

Bringing pro soccer team to Austin, building stadium may trigger vote

“Precourt would like to have a site for a stadium picked by Jan. 1 and an agreement with the city in place by the summer. Meetings those deadlines would be difficult if the city held an election in either March or May, and outright impossible if a soccer election were held in November 2018.”

“We are not afraid of an election on bringing in MLS to Austin,” Suttle told the American-Statesman. “The only concern I can think of is we have a finite amount of time to take advantage of this opportunity and we would have to evaluate whether an election scenario fits into the scheduling.”

Link to Source

Local Sports Agent and Retired Attorney Bret Adams calls Ginther and Fischer “delusional”

“The letter also requested that Columbus not be “pitted against another city,” but the battle may have already begun. At least that is the way Bret Adams, a longtime Columbus attorney and sports agent, sees it.”

““(Ginther and Fischer) are delusional if they believe that they’re not in a bidding war right now with Austin, Texas,” Adams said.”

Link to Source

State Rep. Mike Duffey to ask Ohio Attorney General to consider legal action to keep Columbus Crew SC from leaving town

“State Rep. Mike Duffey says he plans to ask Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to consider legal action to keep Columbus Crew SC from leaving town.

Duffey, a Republican from Worthington, said there’s a case to be made based on Ohio Revised Code 9.67 that came about after Art Modell moved the Cleveland National Football League franchise to Baltimore.”

Link to Source

A  second article reports the comments of lawyer on whether there is a chance for success:

“”There are interesting possibilities just from the literal wording,” he said. “There’s a pretty strong argument that anybody in our municipal area might have standing to try to go to court to enforce, especially a group with an interest in buying the team. … (The city) can all sue to enforce that, but there’s a legal concept that if somebody is an intended beneficiary they might have a standing to bring a lawsuit.”

Bexar County declines to pursue case against MLS

Regarding San Antonio’s potential lawsuit against MLS, the full text of the report presented to Bexar County Judge Wolff by Bexar County DA office’s Schweniger is linked to below.

There is no doubt that the MLS expansion process has been unfair, unethical, and duplicitous. It is currently unclear, however, whether a fraudulent expansion process denied San Antonio the opportunity to secure an MLS franchise or whether Bexar County’s application partner’s unilateral decision to defer the application denied San Antonio the opportunity to secure an MLS franchise.

Bexar County DA full letter to Judge Wolff (PDF)

Former front office employee @espnino74 confirms Loughnane curtailed Latino outreach

From @espnino74: “In October 2014 ,when #CrewSC launched the new batch I asked @LockCrewSC if they had a specific strategy to reach the Latino Fan Base. Since I was noticing a decrease in the Spanish coverage from the Club. This was his answer: “This is to encapsulate everybody in our market. This batch recognizes anybody who lives in the city of Columbus, the state of Ohio who wants to be a fan of Columbus Crew SC.””

Link to Tweet

Columbus Crew Documentary “Save the Crew: the Fans vs the System” is released

Since the October 17 revelation that the Columbus Crew – a founder member of Major League Soccer and a previous league champion – were under threat of relocation to Austin, Texas for the 2019 MLS season by their owner Anthony Precourt, the fans in Columbus have rallied around its team with its grassroots #SaveTheCrew campaign.

Columbus was an essential part of the creation of MLS, and later became the first team in the US to construct a soccer-specific stadium.  Crew fans have shown themselves to be true soccer fans by sticking by their team no matter what, as will be seen in this film.

The film also shows how Mr Precourt’s purchase of the team in 2013 led to an improvement in the team’s form, and how his past willingness to engage with the local fanbase was warmly received.  Given the ongoing developments about a possible move to Austin, we have made sure to fairly present his arguments as publicly stated.

Watch the film on YouTube

Bill Archer tears Garber to pieces on bigsoccer.com

We can be fairly certain though that one of two things will happen here:

1) Various Ohio courts – tough luck on that one, eh? – will decide that the Crew will stay right where it is, thanks

2) An ugly, protracted legal battle which could take years to adjudicate will make a bunch of lawyers very rich and Don very unemployed.

Of course, as per usual, MLS has no comment whatsoever. Their media office has spent the last couple months refusing to answer the phone and that’s likely to continue. They ought to let them spend the Winter in Florida.

Link to Source

Garber talks Columbus business metrics in his annual State of the MLS address

“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.”

Link to Source

Link to Video of the State of the MLS Speech

Alejandro Moreno’s reaction to Don Garber’s halftime comments during the MLS Cup Finals

Alejandro Moreno: It’s the company line. It has been business metrics for a while. What I would say is that there are reports coming out of Columbus that give you the other side of the story and that is that the Columbus Crew haven’t had a presence in the community for a while. That the Hispanic outreach program is not quite what it used to be. That the activities that brought together the fans with the players are not what they used to be. If all of that is true, that is the ownership’s version of tanking, at least from the front office perspective. That is unacceptable. We need to see the other side of the story as well.

Link to Massive Report analysis

Austin councilwoman Ann Kitchen speaks out against the Butler Shores stadium location

Dear Neighbors –

I’ve received many emails regarding the Major League Soccer stadium proposal and want to provide you all with an update on where we are in process and reiterate, while the idea of a soccer stadium is an exciting opportunity for Austin – I strongly assert it must be located in the right place.

There are a number of concerns I share with many of you regarding the initial suggestion for the Butler Shores location.  That location is not the right place for many reasons.  Extreme concentrated traffic impacts, challenging and limited access, stadium lighting and noise on the Barton Place condos as well as Zilker Park, surrounding neighborhood, and park land would add to an already overburdened area (given the impacts of ACL and other events for example).

The resolution passed in November directed the City Manager to identify city-owned sites and to include underutilized parkland for a Major League Soccer stadium and practice fields.  The report back item is posted for this Thursday’s Council meeting as Item 92- http://www.austintexas.gov/edims/document.cfm?id=289851  Council is expected to discuss the item at work session on Tuesday, but unfortunately staff’s report will not be released until Wednesday.

This is no way to proceed on such a major council action that could involve the use of some of our City’s public parkland and particularly prime parkland along Lady Bird Lake.  Any action must be thoroughly reviewed and must look for opportunities to increase access to parkland for our increasing population, not diminish access.

I will be advocating for the item to be removed from Council’s Thursday agenda at Tuesday’s work session.  We will not have benefit of staff’s report in time for that discussion and a single day prior to Thursday’s meeting is simply not sufficient.  If the item moves forward to Thursday, I will continue to argue for more time and exploration of opportunities to provide the public and Council the time that should and needs to be provided for such a major project.

To date the soccer interest, Precourt, is acting on its own – the city has not suggested or sanctioned or participated in any drawings of a stadium.  Nor has city council approved the Butler Shores location or considered any location for that matter.  The only action Council has taken is to direct the staff to create a list of all potential locations within the entire city – private land as well as public land.

You can count on me to oppose the Butler Shores location; to ensure that the public is involved in discussion of any location; and to properly vet any proposals.

Best Regards,

Ann Kitchen

District 5

Link to Tweet with the full text

Austin identifies eight sites for MLS stadium

Of the eight properties recommended by city staff as prime sites for soccer, three are on parkland: Butler Shores Metropolitan Park, Guerrero Metro Park and the Travis County Exposition Center. Butler Shores is known to be Precourt’s favorite.

An October survey by Opinion Analysts, which polled 400 likely voters, showed three of four Austinites surveyed approve of bringing an MLS team to town. Almost 60 percent approved of the idea of a privately financed stadium on underutilized parkland.

“Our goal is to have the team in a temporary facility here in 2019 while a new place is being built,” he said. Precourt Sports Ventures President “Dave Greeley said the only thing preventing that is having the appropriate stadium site here. I think we can all come together to make that happen.”

Link to Post

Austin City Council delays action on Crew stadium site until at least February 2018

Austin City Council will not act this week on a proposal for a stadium site for a Major League Soccer team in the city’s Butler Shores Metropolitan Park. Members could take up the subject again in February, based on a discussion at a Tuesday work session.

The Austin American-Statesman has reported that Precourt wants to have a stadium site nailed down by Jan. 1.

Link to Source

Link to @aerickson Tweet about the delay until February 15, 2018

Garber has some unkind words about Columbus as he talks up CIncinnati

He [Garber] cited a lack of local support from fans and government in Columbus.

“You have a team down the road in Cincinnati that’s averaging over 20,000 fans a game,” Garber said. “The presentation that (FC Cincinnati majority owner) Carl Lindner and (FC Cincinnati GM) Jeff Berding made just the other day, it’s just hard to imagine they’re separated by 150 miles. It’s just incredible the difference between those two, and they’re playing in the lower division.”

He said he hasn’t seen concern among expansion cities about the possibility of teams moving out of the market because of the Columbus situation.

“The level of public support is significant,” he said of the four expansion candidates. “We haven’t seen that in Columbus.

“Maybe Columbus should look at what Detroit and Nashville and Cincinnati and Sacramento are doing and think, maybe if this thing is turned from where it was to where it needs to be, that the Crew might have been more successful.”

Link to Source

In 2016, Crew was signing sponsors for two year deals (deals that would end after 2018)

A long list of companies whose sponsorships end after 2018 are mentioned in the article (e.g., Kahiki, Land Grant, Pursuit). Also of note is that jersey sponsor Acura, whose sponsorship runs through 2019, had previously said the following:

“This isn’t just a local investment,” Acura spokesman Tom Peyton said when the deal was announced. “Certainly we’re able to have an identity here, but it’s wonderful to go to other key markets for Acura … and have that local and TV exposure that goes along with that. MLS has a real opportunity by being able to sell that opportunity.”

Link to Source

Crew are in the Google top 10 trending teams for 2017

Well, Google recently announced its top 10 trending MLS teams of 2017 as part of their annual “Year in Search,” a showcase of the people, topics, places and events that drew the most attention throughout the year.

Who were they? Well, take a look for yourself:

Atlanta United FC

Orlando City SC


Sporting Kansas City

Columbus Crew SC

Houston Dynamo

Chicago Fire Soccer Club

Real Salt Lake

San Jose Earthquakes

D.C. United

Link to Source

Arace implores #SaveTheCrew to redouble efforts, summarizes the situation perfectly

This week, the league is expected to announce which two cities will be awarded expansion franchises. If Cincinnati gets one, among the takeaways will be that the league is appeasing the state (goodbye lawsuit?) and greasing the tracks out of Columbus. Precourt is on record as saying he wants to choose an Austin site by Jan. 1, and he has eight plats for a stadium and/or a practice facility from which to choose. Things may be well-settled by the time the Austin City Council votes on the matter in February.

Link to Tweet

MLS in Austin blogger Josh Babetski fails to get 100 supporters to buy a pin in 22 days

Fact: on Nov 30, 2017, amateur soccer blogger Josh Babetski announces that “first 100” pins were available to MLS in Austin supporters. Link to Tweet

Fact: on 21 December 2017 blogger Josh Babetski again mentioned that “first 100” pins are available. Link to Tweet

Fact: Babetski has access to Precourt Sports Ventures personnel, had early access to information about the October 17 announcement, and is on PSV’s committee in Austin. Link to Source

Despite direct PSV support, it looks like Babetski has failed to sell even 100 memberships with free pins. Either there isn’t broad support for MLS in Austin, and/or amateur blogger Babetski needs some marketing advice.

Gabe Lezra writes on SBNation that Ohio could seize the Crew via eminent domain

Before we can determine whether Ohio can use eminent domain to take control of the Crew, we need to make sure that the Crew is something that would fall under the broad definition of “personal property” — that is “the tangible or intangible assets of a legal person.” Luckily, we can dispense with this step very quickly: the Crew is a set of legal entities, contracts, and other economic relationships that are broadly structured under the umbrella of a single corporation which is controlled by Precourt Sports Ventures, a legal person. Because the definition of “personal property” is so broad, then, the Crew would certainly be “personal property” that can be “taken for public use,” so long as the state pays the owners “just compensation”.

Link to Source