Austin weighs Precourt Sports Ventures stadium plan

precourtt sports venture austin stadium concept.jpg
(Courtesy: Precourt Sports Ventures)

City Council members in Austin, TX will vote Thursday whether to approve a new soccer stadium plan for the Columbus Crew SC. A "no" vote could deal a serious blow to owner Anthony Precourt's efforts to move the team.

The current deal at McKalla Place has been in the works for months. Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV) had tried to get approval for a new stadium in several other sites but was denied. In the latest proposal, PSV would pay for construction of a $200 million stadium, let the City of Austin own the stadium and land under it, as well as pay rent to play in the stadium.

"There's no possible way for us to lose," said Tobias Roediger, part of the Save the Crew movement. "They can approve this until they're blue in the face but the reality is there's a lawsuit going on in Ohio and until that's resolved, the legality of the team leaving Ohio is really up in the air."

Both the City of Columbus and State of Ohio have sued PSV to keep the team from moving. The lawsuit is based on the so-called "Art Modell Law" which says a team owner cannot move a team out of state without allowing someone else to buy it. Columbus city leaders said there are negotiations going on by local investors interested in purchasing the team.Columbus city leaders said there are negotiations going on by local investors interested in purchasing the team. A Franklin County Common Pleas judge extended a pause on the case for another 44 days. Arguments in the lawsuit are scheduled for September 7th.

Many Crew SC supporters have said the longer the process of moving the team to Austin takes, the better the odds are the team stays.

"They're already going to be selling tickets for the 2019 season in Columbus (in a few weeks)," he said. "I don't know how, if they're already that pressed for time, how you would possibly have any chance at having a successful season in 2019 if they were going to move the team."

Roediger and other supporters unveiled plans for a Downtown Columbus stadium earlier this week. Precourt has said he would only consider keeping the team in Columbus if they could play downtown. Save the Crew members have also lined up more than 10,000 fans committed to buying season tickets and more than 350 businesses pledging to become sponsors.

The PSV proposal will face competition. There are six other plans at McKalla Place for parks, housing and retail.