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

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-  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