Austin is getting MLS!

I’ll be leading a bike ride from Zilker, on to the train, to the first game!

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I’ll be leading a car ride from Austin, to Bergstrom and onto a flight to Columbus, to provide solace to the thousands of Crew fans who just lost a soccer team thanks to the double-crossing machinations of Anthony Precourt.

Seriously, since when is it a good thing for a pro sports team owner to effectively blackmail its home city and threaten to relocate unless it coughs up tens (or hundreds) of millions in “incentives” to keep them there? Am I the only one who remembers how Bud Adams royally screwed over Houston by moving the Oilers to Tennessee – less than a decade after Houston voters approved a bond to pay for nearly $200 million in improvements to the Astrodome? (in inflation-adjusted numbers) Not only did it spike the property taxes of everyone in the city; the bond literally wasn’t paid off until last year!

To be clear, I fully support the addition of pro sports franchises in Austin, and think it’s patently ridiculous that we’ve gone this long without one. What I don’t support is the use of underhanded methods to relocate a team here (not to mention dicking over San Antonio in the process - they were originally slated to get the next MLS franchise).

By underhanded method you mean making it extremely clear when you bought the franchise that you’d be looking at moving it to Austin? So much so that you wrote into the contract that Austin was the only city you could move it to. And having the City of Columbus sign off on it as well as the MLS?

so sneaky!!

I feel bad for the fans in Columbus who are losing a team. But I find it shocking this stigma that has been applied like this is some shady deal. I also don’t pretend to know a lot or defend the integrity of the owners. But it is disingenuous to act like this was any sort of a surprise and hasn’t been coming for some time.

What’s further, when you say “blackmail” what you really mean is he made it clear he wanted the team in an urban center. Columbus wouldn’t give him that option. We barely did in our “second downtown.” To paraphrase Mayor Adler:

let me just say they are building a stadium and then they are giving it to us, they are paying rent for it, they are building affordable housing, then they are giving it to us

This is a good deal for Austin and I look forward to enjoying many a game.

By underhanded method you mean making it extremely clear when you bought the franchise that you’d be looking at moving it to Austin? So much so that you wrote into the contract that Austin was the only city you could move it to. And having the City of Columbus sign off on it as well as the MLS?

JP, I haven’t seen misleading propaganda this rank – outside of statements from the Trump administration and Community Not Commodity – in … well, longer than I can even remember. Do you seriously think Columbus city officials would’ve signed off on the sale of the Crew if they thought even for a nanosecond that Precourt would almost immediately try and move the team to Austin?? Or that the team’s fans had even the slightest idea about it?!? This assertion is total horseshit and you know it.

What actually happened was that Precourt and the head of MLS slipped the out clause in question into Precourt’s purchase agreement, despite Precourt indicating to city leaders and Crew fans time and time again that he was “committed to Columbus” – and did so without revealing its presence to the general public. It didn’t even occur to anyone outside of Precourt’s circle that he was planning on move the team, considering the facts that a) it was the Charter Member of MLS, and thus relocating it elsewhere was (previously) unthinkable, and b) it is literally illegal to move a pro sports franchise out of Ohio without both advance notice and giving potential local buyers first-refusal rights, let alone the monumentally deceptive fashion employed by Precourt. (Moreover, the Ohio AG and the city of Columbus have sued Precourt over the move as a violation of the state’s “Modell Law.” Having worked for both an AG’s and county DA’s office, I can say with a fair degree of certainty that they don’t sue private individuals without cause.)

Further, it’s amply clear that Precourt acted in bad faith the entire time, solely so he could get an MLS team on the cheap for $68 million rather than paying the $150 million necessary to launch a new franchise. The article below lays out the timeline of his duplicity – and btw considering it was written by the head sportswriter at Columbus’s daily newspaper, I think it’s safe to say he wasn’t “extremely clear” a move was in the cards:

Note this part in particular:

Precourt often proclaimed his commitment to Columbus — at times when he was asked directly by local media, but more often when he was among the fans, sharing some quality tavern time. If you comb through newspaper reports or sift through social media, Precourt comes off like Lucas Sullivant, whose grand vision of Franklinton turned into Ohio’s capital.

Yet, between the two dates mentioned above — July 2013 and October 2016 — much has been unearthed about a grander scheme. MLS commissioner Don Garber gave his blessing to include an exit clause, specifically for Austin, in Precourt’s purchase agreement…

We know now that Precourt was playing Columbus as he planned for Austin. And as we came to learn this, the nefariousness of Precourt’s intentions became normalized. It has been eight months since Precourt announced that he was “exploring” a franchise move, and so many tales of his duplicity and conniving have come to light, the whole sordid mess has turned into a blur.

Here’s a broader piece from The Guardian – you know, the most progressive major newspaper in the world and whatnot – on what they rightly call “the oldest scam in US sports” (again, an illegal one owing to an Ohio law passed after Art Modell relocated the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore):

Finally, does this sound like it came from someone who was “extremely clear” the Crew might be moving?

Let’s be clear what Anthony Precourt’s heist will do. It will effectively ensure Columbus doesn’t have a Major League Soccer club again. Owners will see it as an unworkable city, while residents will most likely not want to deal with the whims of a flighty owner should another club look to give Columbus another shot. It will lay waste to over 21 years worth of soccer culture in the American Heartland.

Perhaps even more troubling for those of us outside of Ohio who have no connection to the Crew whatsoever, it will signal to any owner that you’ll be able to up and move your franchise if you’re near the bottom of the league in all business metrics. If their club is not drawing well anymore and can’t get a brand new stadium in an expensive part of town, they can always look to auction it off to the highest bidder. There will always be an Austin, or Saint Louis, or Las Vegas, or some other thirsty mid-sized city with enough big league aspirations to raise taxes, float a bond, and give the predatory Anthony Precourts of the world either the greener pasture they seek or the ransom notice for current MLS cities to pay.

Anyway, feel free to keep on trying to defend the undefendable (you were, after all, in support of building a stadium in arguably the worst possible location in Austin since it would’ve been within walking distance of your house), but do so knowing just how bad it makes Austin look to the rest of the world – outside of our local “bubble” where left is right; ridesharing and short-term rentals are bad; “progressive Democrats” act like regressive Republicans; and economic as well as physical growth should be discouraged at any cost – to encourage a move under such shady circumstances.

Oh, wait: I forgot you mentioned you’re “shocked” that “this stigma that has been applied like this is some shady deal.” Maybe that’s because the rest of us can appraise a situation outside of our own fondness for the sport, and see what’s really going on here stinks to high heaven?

While it’s very exciting that Austin may be getting an MLS team, when the current owners of the Columbus Crew purchased the team in 2013, they publicly committed to keep the team in Columbus for 10 years. The so-called “Austin clause” was not publicly reported on until October 2017, and first confirmed by MLS in January 2018.

Also, the city of Columbus is currently suing the Columbus Crew and MLS to prevent the relocation of the team to Austin.

Hmmm… I hadn’t heard that. Are they still planning to move before the stadium is ready? If not, then 2023 sounds about right :wink:

I was in favor of the stadium going somewhere where it would be accessible via Austin’s trail network to encourage people to bike / walk / scoot to the games instead of drive.

I also don’t really see any other conceivable way Austin would get any major league sports team in the foreseeable future.

I fully acknowledge that he got a good deal on a team and got the best deal he could to achieve his objective of moving a team to Austin. Seems like a good business person. As far as his intentions and how they played out, I remain unconvinced. You make a lot of assumptions and seem to have omniscient insight into the inner workings of this persons mind and the city of Columbus.

As I know you are aware emotions win elections. And as you have done here, those against this have played on peoples emotions painting the ownership as a sleazeball to make people not like him. If you wipe away the conjecture and innuendo, simply looking at the facts, it really doesn’t look that bad.

They want to use the opt out clause in their lease with Columbus to move to Austin for the 2019 season, which begins in March. They would play in a temporary facility until the stadium is ready in 2021. They haven’t identified a temporary site yet, although there are a few venues that could potentially work (Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Bobcat Stadium in San Marcos, Myers Stadium at UT, etc.).

However, their ability to move to Austin in time for the 2019 season (or at all) could be complicated by the current lawsuit in Ohio and potential legal action here in Austin.

I was in favor of the stadium going somewhere where it would be accessible via Austin’s trail network to encourage people to bike / walk / scoot to the games instead of drive.

Not to rehash this at length, but Butler Shores was a nonstarter from the get-go since there was never the slightest chance on earth the Council would’ve approved the site – even most urbanists opposed its location! Further, this was all yet another example of Precourt’s bad-faith dealings, considering he went to the extent of having renderings created for it and grossly exaggerated the extent of his dealing with Adler and the Council over it. (OTOH he shot himself in the foot in the process, considering it also killed any possibility of the stadium being built in Guerrero Park, an area with a full 300 acres of unused land that’s readily accessible via the hike-and-bike trail.)

I also don’t really see any other conceivable way Austin would get any major league sports team in the foreseeable future.

So this justifies bad-faith dealings and Precourt’s years-long conspiracy to move the Crew to Austin, which was obviously his plan dating back to when he first bought the team? I don’t think so. (And btw I could easily see Austin getting an expansion NFL team, even if no dates have been set for additional ones to be established.)

I fully acknowledge that he got a good deal on a team and got the best deal he could to achieve his objective of moving a team to Austin. Seems like a good business person.

Perhaps in the Donald Trump context of the term (in his pre-presidential years). He, too, has shown a marked tendency for screwing people over in order to get the best deal for himself.

As far as his intentions and how they played out, I remain unconvinced. You make a lot of assumptions and seem to have omniscient insight into the inner workings of this persons mind and the city of Columbus.

Yeah, that’s because some of us actually research topics like this one. The links I posted in my last email barely scratch the surface of what’s been written in, and about, the city of Columbus, and literally without exception, their sentiments are a) the Crew should stay put and b) Precourt is an epic sleazebag.

If you wipe away the conjecture and innuendo, simply looking at the facts, it really doesn’t look that bad.

I am looking at the facts - and it really does look that bad. Below are facts not in dispute:

  1. Precourt purchased the Crew in 2013, and as noted committed to keeping it in Columbus for at least a decade.
  2. He also simultaneously signed an agreement with the MLS Commissioner – one kept wholly secret from anyone in Columbus until after he announced his intent to move to Austin last fall – which included an out clause allowing him to move to Crew to Austin.
  3. From these facts one can logically deduce that he planned to move the team the entire time – never mind the Modell Law precluding him from doing so.

Finally, I’ll just note that unlike you (an obvious football fan) I have no dog in this fight: I’m certainly not opposed to establishing an MLS team here, nor do I have any significant issues with the deal Precourt hammered out for McKalla Place. I do, however, have a problem with underhanded dealings done in bad faith, and the Crew unequivocally falls into that category.

Not to rehash this at length, but here is a forty five page refutation of your paragraph. :wink:

Roy Guerrero park is also a part of our trail network.

To quote someone who I was decidedly against on the Uber debate, but makes a salient point on this one:

"Okay just so everyone is clear, this is an insanely good deal. Perhaps the best in the whole country. Friends in other cities cannot believe it.

This deal is the opposite of what happens when the NFL pillages a stadium from taxpayer coffers. We took the site of a chemical explosion that had been vacant for 20 years. Then we convinced a team to build a stadium there, give it to us for free, and then charge them rent to use it.

We didn’t put it downtown on valuable community park space and we got 150+ affordable housing units, $3M for CapMetro, plus a dozen other key concessions that made everyone happy. That’s why this was a 7-4 vote. Everybody wins.

Soccer is a sport whose fan base is diverse and passionate. Did you know Austin was the #2 city in America for World Cup viewership? This stadium is a venue for everyone in Austin, not just a few.

This vote and the fight behind it was also in many ways a surrogate for what’s going on in Austin big picture — old versus new, political posturing versus consensus and compromise, entrenched interests versus compelling new visions for the future…

Don’t let the NIMBY do-nothing crowd convince you otherwise just because they need speaking points for November’s re-election to rally their cynical base.

This was the right deal and the right time and everyone involved behind the scenes should be incredibly proud.

I’m happy!"

–Josh Jones Dilworth

And really dude with the overly verbose replies throwing out overly broad comparisons to polarizing people and issues. We can agree to disagree and leave it at that.