Major League Soccer team eyeing move to Austin

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Austin has been mentioned in recent years by the commissioner of Major League Soccer as a potential expansion city, but an MLS team could arrive another way.

Columbus Crew SC, which has been playing in MLS since the league’s inception in 1996, is exploring a move to Austin.

Precourt Sports Ventures LLC, which bought the Columbus, Ohio-based club in 2013, is evaluating the long-term viability of keeping the club in Columbus at a new stadium or relocating to Austin.

“This club has ambition to be a standard bearer in MLS; therefore, we have no choice but to expand and explore all of our options,” said Anthony Precourt, CEO of Precourt Sports Ventures and Columbus Crew SC chairman, in a news release. “This includes a possible move to Austin, which is the largest metropolitan area in North America without a major league sports franchise. Soccer is the world’s game, and with Austin’s growing presence as an international city, combined with its strong multicultural foundation, MLS in Austin could be an ideal fit.”

Moving to Austin would require the ownership group to find a league-approved stadium, according to the news release. A spokesperson for the relocation effort said Tuesday morning that public funding would not be sought for a stadium.

According to MLS Commissioner Don Garber, the Crew is near the bottom of the league in all business metrics, including attendance and franchise value. Its stadium, built in 1998, is not up to MLS standards, he said in the release.

“The league is very reluctant to allow teams to relocate, but based on these factors, we support PSV’s efforts to explore options outside of Columbus, including Austin, provided they find a suitable stadium location,” Garber said.

4 comments
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  1. Good luck with this idea! This town has serious trouble just supporting minor league baseball at the Dell Diamond. Whenever one of the home team members hits a home run, they have to run a collection basket up through the stands because the players make such little money. The Mexicans in this town like soccer, but most of them only care about Mexico’s national team. Soccer is so poorly followed in this country that the US National team didn’t even qualify for the upcoming World Cup games. There is some youth soccer around here for little kids, but I really have a hard time imagining enough support for a professional soccer team.

    • BRING IT!!!
      As an (anglo) soccer-loving family we would buy tickets, merchandise and be great fans!
      As for the above, “Debbie Downer” comments, the Express is a financial and community success, and the Homerun basket is a great tradition. ( It did entail a fairly small cinvestment from the city of Road Rock.
      I don’t want a professional team of over-paid thugs selling tickets that only large businesses can afford. I’d be happy to toss $ in a basket for each goal!

  2. i’d LOVE an MLS team here in Austin. I was a season ticket holder for the Portland Timbers for their first 5 years (see photo above in article) and would love to have an opportunity to take my kiddos to an Austin game!!

  3. full disclosure: I live within 70 miles of the Crew. I go to an occasional game. I do not have season tix. What I can tell you is if Precourt and the MLS can do this to Columbus, he and the MLS will do it to Austin, or any of the other 11 communities at risk of losing their teams because there are 12 metro areas in the US who want one but don’t have them now. And, under such false pretenses. The Crew receives significant support both from the Columbus area. Don’t just take what Precourt tells you. Do some research. The corporate support waned from last year to this year because the Crew priced themselves out of the market. And there is locally represented international corporate support that signed on to the Crew in the past couple seasons including Acura, Wendy’s, and Kroger just to name a few. After the news broke about Austin this year (and after Austin had already been on record as planning for this with Precourt), Precourt denied any involvement with your community. One of those major new corporate sponsors with international ties told Precourt to take the deal and shove it. Also, MAPFRE Stadium was built to MLS standards as the prototypical soccer only stadium in 1998. Their field surface consistently rates as one of the best playing surfaces in the world. The Crew has to have the lowest occupancy cost of any MLS team as they spend $72,000 per YEAR on rent. Plus the team keeps 75% of parking revenue and all of the concession revenue. Also, season ticket sales increased the last couple of years even increasing again through the doldrums of their 2016 season on the field. The team says that season tix sales slumped in 2017, BUT THIS WAS AFTER SLASHING THEIR SEASON TICKET MARKETING BUDGET BY OVER 40% from the prior year. Their attendance was on the lower end, but never at the bottom. Look to FC Dallas for that this past year. Precourt lied to Columbus when he purchased the team 4 years ago. He’s lying to Austin now. And the MLS is condoning it. With US Soccer in such disarray, does it make sense for MLS to be party to this kind of chicanery? If they are party to this, what is to keep other cities without a team from “buying” their way up the ladder?

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JJ Velasquez

The Central Austin editor since 2016, JJ covers city government and other topics of community interest—when he's not editing the work of his prolific writers. He began his tenure at Community Impact Newspaper as the reporter for its San Marcos | Buda | Kyle edition covering local government and public education. The Laredo, Texas native is also a web developer whose mission is to make the internet a friendly place for finding objective and engaging news content.

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