Greeley: “I want to make two comments about Columbus. There is a dedicated, engaged, hard-core fan base that is as strong as any MLS team’s. Our challenge in Columbus is simple: We don’t have broad-based community support. Secondly, we don’t have the corporate support we need in Columbus.”
Greeley says that Hispanic culture in Austin is critically important
Note that all Hispanic outreach in Columbus had ceased by 2015 (see January 1, 2015 entry).
“”Hispanic culture in Austin is critically important. #MLS would not be where it is today with the Hispanic community” Dave Greeley #MLS2ATX” Link to Source (Tweet)
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.”
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 Heartland Bank Pres McComb’s Tweet re: “squeeze”
MLS trolls Columbus, suggests they’re helping “keep the playoffs wierd”
Boehm: Give thanks as Dynamo, Crew SC keep MLS Cup Playoffs weird
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.””
At annual meeting, Sounders’ owner Roth says it’s “not an ownership vote”
“It’s not really an owner’s vote.”
Does that mean that isn’t a vote at all, or that the board of governors votes, but the BoG is not the same as the owners?
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.”
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.””
FC Cincinnati announces jersey sponsor (if granted an MLS team)
“Second-tier US soccer team FC Cincinnati have announced that health care practitioner Mercy Health will be the club’s official jersey sponsor if they join the top-flight Major League Soccer (MLS).”
Austin developer Michael Wilt confirms he is not involved in the proposed PSV move
“His group isn’t involved in Precourt Sports Ventures potential move to the city. He recently met with the president of that company, Dave Greeley, and said Greeley couldn’t be more bullish on Austin.”
Link to Article
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.”
Crew sends email advertising 2018 10-game ticket packages
“10 match plans” start at $36.67/month for 6 months (Nordecke) and go up to $53.33/month for 6 months (lower sideline).
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
Precourt Sports Ventures statement about the meeting with Columbus officials
“We were extremely disappointed that no concrete offer or proposal was presented.”
MLS, Precourt, and Columbus representatives meeting participants confirmed
“Based on an itinerary we saw, Ginther and Fischer met with MLS Commissioner Don Garber; Gary Stevenson, president and managing director of MLS Business Ventures; Charles Altchek, vice president, commissioner’s office; Precourt; and team President Andy Loughnane.”
Link to Source
In a video interview from 2015, Loughnane talks up Mapfre Stadium in an interview with @Oughton8 of Soccer & Beer
“This is hallowed ground. We love where we play. We have absolutely zero plans to play anywhere else for the foreseeable future.” – A. Loughnane
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.”
Crew season ticket prices reported to have gone up from 2017 to 2018
“Ticket prices went up for 2018. I talked with one Nordecke ticket holder who said prices went from $858 to $895 for two tickets and a parking spot, a 4.3 percent hike.”
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.”
Soccer was important in Columbus all the way back in 1991; we are a soccer town
Matt Bernhardt (@bernhardtsoccer) posts two Columbus Dispatch articles from the early 1990’s showing the strong local interest in soccer well before the World Cup was hosted in the US in 1994. A Dutch exhibition match drew 7,000 fans, and the USA v Panama match drew more than 10,000.
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.”
Columbus Foundation pitches a stadium proposal
“The president and CEO of the Columbus Foundation is pitching a Downtown site for a 21,000-seat soccer stadium aimed at keeping Crew SC in Columbus.”
Immediately after the Crew draw vs Toronto 0-0, NBC Sports has some words for Precourt about his “sabotage”
“Tuesday night saw Precourt and Co. up the ante as they intentionally restricted entry (two gates for the entire stadium, causing thousands to miss the game’s opening minutes) into MAPFRE Stadium with the presumed intent of a half-empty venue when the television broadcast kicked off and panned left to right.”
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.).
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.”
Precourt sets January 1st, 2018 deadline for Austin stadium site
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.
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.”
Precourt tweets about losing to Toronto in the MLS playoffs
In his first Tweet since October, @APrecourt says: “What a historic playoff run. Crew SC players and coaches earned so much respect for their achievements this season. It hurts right now, but these guys deserve to hold their heads high. #CrewSC”