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MLS, Precourt unveil Austin FC name, crest

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Major League Soccer is likely coming to Austin, and the Columbus Crew’s owners have released a name and logo for the team.

It’s not an awful logo by any means, with a decent color selection and the use of the”Texas Live Oak” tree, but it sure is hard to look past the tomfoolery used to (probably) tear a team from its fan base. It’s difficult to imagine a relocation being handled any worse.

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Anyway, last week the Austin City Council approved Crew owner Anthony Precourt’s plans to build a stadium in Texas, and now Precourt Sports Ventures is bringing the goods on what goods it’ll be bringing south.

@MLS2ATX also released an explainer for the badge, including that the color is “Bright Verde,” which is English and Spanish for bright green. It’s a little like Seattle’s “Rave Green” except rave is English for rave.

Here’s how the Major League Soccer web site phrased the current situation between the Crew, Precourt, and Austin. It’s… awkward (and how could it not be. There’s reason to feel empathy for the writer).

PSV, which currently operates Columbus Crew SC, is exploring options to bring an MLS club to Austin.

“Given the historical and ongoing market challenges, Precourt Sports Ventures must prepare for every potential scenario for the Club in 2019 and beyond,” PSV said in a statement. “Should Austin be granted the requisite approvals ahead of the 2019 season, it will be imperative to launch with momentum and a presence to ensure the long-term sustainability and viability of the Club. Normal business operations shall continue in Columbus for the balance of the 2018 season where winning an MLS Cup remains the objective.”

The Austin Statesman also pointed out that the names Austin FC and Austin Athletic are owned by Major League Soccer, and that it was registered in August 2017.

Another group of people to feel empathy for might be Austin soccer fans, who are probably really excited about their new team and fancy new digs, but not at the expense of another club.

Columbus advocate Fischer finds Garber comments “extremely ironic”

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Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer has plenty of problems with Major League Soccer’s treatment of the Crew, so it comes as no surprise that he didn’t particularly enjoy commissioner Don Garber’s latest thoughts on the efforts to “Save the Crew.”

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Garber said Monday that he was “hopeful” the city and league could come together to save the Crew should current owner Anthony Precourt bring his MLS franchise rights to Austin.

Fischer’s turn to take the mic came Tuesday, and he was quick to mention a perceived double standard: That while the league demands a downtown stadium in Columbus — MAPFRE Stadium sits 4.1 miles north of the center of the city — it has no problems with a proposed stadium on a notably big plot of land further outside of downtown Austin.

“I find it extremely ironic that the commissioner wants a downtown stadium at the same time that the McKalla site is the equivalent of building a stadium in Buckeye Lake,” Fischer said. “I’ve got a home in Buckeye Lake and maybe we should look at putting the stadium there if that’s what they’re interested in.”

Safe to say that while the MLS season and World Cup took a little bit of attention and ire away from the Save the Crew movement, it didn’t take any of the vitriol out of one of the league’s first markets.

Report: Garber “hopeful” Crew can find resolution in Ohio

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Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber issued an update on the race for the league’s next spots, and updated the ugly situation in Columbus.

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The commish is open to the idea of keeping the Crew, or a version of it, in Columbus even if owner Anthony Precourt gets approval to bring the club to Austin, Texas.

MLS deputy commissioner Mark Abbott has met with Columbus interests in the last couple months, according to Garber.

From ESPN.com:

“[Abbott has] met with the city to talk about what we might do together should the Crew leave Columbus,” said Garber. “Those conversations are ongoing. I’m hopeful that we’ll come up with a resolution that’s going to be good for the city, good for ownership, good for the Crew and good for the fans.”

The City of Columbus has made some legal headway in protecting its status as an MLS market, and the league being even marginally in Columbus’ corner is a cause for optimism in the fight to save the Crew.

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ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle also reported Garber’s thoughts on the possibilities of MLS sides coming to Phoenix, St. Louis, Las Vegas, San Diego, and St. Louis. Of the bunch, he was least bullish on Las Vegas and St. Louis.

Columbus Crew owner, MLS review Ohio suit over possible move

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Major League Soccer and the owner of the Columbus Crew say they’re reviewing a lawsuit that Ohio’s attorney general and the city of Columbus filed to stop the proposed team move to Austin, Texas.

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The league and Precourt Sports Ventures said they anticipated having more comment Tuesday about the litigation, which was announced Monday.

The lawsuit cites a law that prohibits sports teams that have received public money from moving unless certain conditions are met. It was enacted after the original Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996.

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The law says teams using publicly supported facilities must provide six months of advance notice of a move and give cities or residents near sports facilities a chance to buy the team.

Crew owner Anthony Precourt announced the possible move last fall.

Ohio Attorney General sues to prevent Crew relocation

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Ohio’s Attorney General is coming for Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt.

State AG Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit against the reviled MLS owner who’s attempting to relocate the Crew to Austin, Texas.

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DeWine cites a statute dating back to Art Modell’s move of the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore that prohibits relocating a sports franchise from Ohio without the meeting of several conditions including a purchase by state residents.

“Loyal Crew fans in Columbus have invested their time and loyalty in this team, and they have allowed the Crew SC to capitalize from financial incentives paid for by their tax dollars. I am left with no other choice than to file this suit to ensure our laws are followed.”

The lawsuit alleges that Precourt Sports Ventures:

  • accepted the benefits of approximately $5 million in state taxpayer-funded improvements to their parking facilities.
  • accepted state property tax exemption for the land on which the Crew SC’s home field, Mapfre Stadium, sits.
  • leased that land from the state at a below-market rate.
  • accepted more than $300,000 in city taxpayer-funded reimbursements of their costs in moving portions of a storm sewer and constructing a water line.
  • entered into a Tax Increment Financing and Economic Development Agreement with the city of Columbus to extend Silver Drive to increase access to Mapfre Stadium currently costing the city $1.3 million in tax revenue with the potential total cost of more than $2.1 million.

The good guys and girls could win.

Of course every owner is allowed to move a team, but the way Precourt Sports Ventures has conducted itself — from nascent “except for Austin” clauses in its contract to the limiting of entrances at a playoff game to make the stadium look empty at opening kick — has been extremely off-putting.

At some point, you’d love to see Major League Soccer address the situation in an open way, though the league largely works at the discretion of the owners. It wouldn’t hurt to see them prodded in that direction by some other owners.