World Cup buzz tempered by future of Crew SC in Columbus

(WSYX/WTTE)

Soccer fans in Columbus were excited to hear the FIFA World Cup will return to North America in 2026. Some of that enthusiasm was tempered though by the uncertain future the Crew SC has in Columbus as efforts to move the team to Austin, Texas continue.

"If you're a soccer fan in America and you say you're not pumped about that, you'll be lying," said John Zidar, a Crew SC supporter who is part of the Save the Crew movement. "There's definitely some extenuating circumstances about that out there right now that might cloud the feelings of people."

The Crew SC could be long gone by the time the World Cup returns to the United States. The team could move as soon as the 2019 season.

"We've done everything we've done and shown Columbus is a great soccer city," he said. "We've seen people from, not just Columbus, but all over the nation and even internationally get on board with our movement."

Columbus will not host any games during the World Cup but Cincinnati will. Officials with the Greater Columbus Sports Commission said Columbus could use a training site for one of the teams competing in 2026 though.

“Certainly we’ll be aggressive when it comes to those opportunities that may come our way especially with some of the play right down the street in Cincinnati," said Linda Logan, the executive director of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission.

Austin city leaders met Tuesday evening to talk about the latest proposed site for a soccer stadium there.

"Right now many elements that are in (Precourt Sports Venture's) proposal don't pencil out for me," said City Council member Leslie Pool. "It looks like a massive giveaway."

The latest proposal would construct a stadium in North Austin but city leaders want to open that spot to bidding from other groups.

"Council is the one that initiated choosing between eight sites and then narrowing it down to this one," said Mark Littlefield, a consultant hired by PSV.

There's skepticism coming from Austin for the plan to move the Crew. Fans in Columbus continued to hang on to hope the MLS's charter member will still be in its original home by the time Ohio hosts the biggest soccer tournament of them all.

"Columbus is where the Crew belongs," Zidar said. "We need the Crew and the Crew needs Columbus and this is where they'll stay."

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