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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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