For the past two months — or since Crew “investor-operator” Anthony Precourt announced he was thinking about taking his talents to Austin — this particular patch of newsprint has been used to document the many, um, oddities of the situation. A few days ago, J.D. Smith did the week’s work in the span of a few tweets.
“T-Bone” Smith co-hosts a sports-talk show at 97.1 The Fan. He is an ardent #SaveTheCrew supporter and a solid follow at @DegenerateTBone. His little tweetstorm focused on the four finalists for Major League Soccer expansion:
(Commissioner) Don Garber says, “Maybe Columbus should look at what Detroit and Nashville and Cincinnati and Sacramento are doing.” Let’s do just that …
First Detroit — They recently tabled their idea of building a soccer-specific stadium in favor of playing in the already built cavernous football stadium. So, the Crew should move back to Ohio Stadium. Got it.
Next, Nashville — They recently approved a stadium to be built on their fairgrounds, outside of their downtown. Columbus has already done that, but maybe he wants us to do it again?
Then, Cincinnati. They are currently selling season tickets for the 2018 season, the most expensive of which is $340 dollars. As the cheapest tickets Crew SC sells are $342 for a full season, that would indicate a drastic reduction in season ticket prices.
Finally, Sacramento, who recently announced they had secured deposits for 10k season tickets for next season. Seeing as how the Crew did this back in 1996, I would say job done there as well.
So to sum up, (Garber) wants Columbus to play in a cavernous football stadium, build a stadium at the fairgrounds, reduce ticket prices drastically, and secure 10k season ticket deposits. Do all of these things, Columbus, and maybe we can keep our team!
Crew supporters are at wit’s end trying to make sense of the senseless.
Columbus is second in national television ratings for ESPN’s MLS Cup playoff games. (Seattle, which won the title, is first.) The #SaveTheCrew movement snowballs with thousands of fans and hundreds of local businesses. It becomes clear that, as a 22-year-old soccer market, Columbus has held up extraordinarily well, and, with a new stadium, it will, indubitably, explode.
It also becomes clear that there is no such thing as “parallel paths.” Only one road has been marked, and it leads to Austin. Precourt has a legion of lobbyists and lawyers working back rooms in the Texas capital. There is none of that in Columbus, there is only a civic bashing (Garber calls the birthplace of American professional soccer “inconsequential”).
Can’t Precourt can sell the Crew to locals — eminently doable — with the promise that he’ll get an expansion team in Austin? There is no brooking of any such alternatives. Precourt and Garber want out, and they’re sprinting for the exit.
Those who hope their children and grandchildren will have an MLS team to root for in Columbus and who perceive the moral turpitude and calumny of what is being perpetuated on our city, try their best to bar the exit. They will have to stand with locked arms right through the holidays. It’s about to get real.
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.
#SaveTheCrew has done Columbus proud. Now is the time for that group, and for the mayor and other interested parties, to redouble their efforts. Is there a sugar daddy out there? Once MLS leaves, it’s not coming back. The departure is nigh.