State lawmakers show support for Crew SC as owner sets sights on Austin
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) The movement to save Crew SC arrived to the Ohio State House on the same day the soccer clubs owner doubled down on interest to move the team to Austin, Texas.
Lawmakers in the Senate Oversight and Reform Committee unanimously approved a resolution to keep Crew SC from leaving Columbus.
Support against the team leaving extended to state leaders. Although the measure is symbolic, the resolution passed unanimously in committee.
Senator Stephanie Kunze sponsored the resolution and explained the team has a major economic and social impact for Columbus and central Ohio.
"It's good for the city. It's good for entertainment obviously. We have lots of fans who love going to soccer games. It's great for youth soccer,” said Senator Kunze.
Supporters filled the hearing room to voice support for the resolution, including Crews SC fan Jo Rodgers with the Save The Crew movement.
"It's been an exciting time. It's been really a neat time to see Columbus come together and support this team and support them being here,” explained Rodgers.
The resolution will now head to the full Senate for approval.
On the same day state lawmakers voice support for keeping the soccer team in Columbus, Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt’s company Precourt Sports Ventures issued a statement insisting efforts to move to Austin are still on the table.
The full statement is below.
Precourt Sports Ventures continues to work with the Austin community to secure an appropriate urban core site for a soccer-specific stadium that will serve as the home of Austin’s first major league professional sports franchise. We announced our serious interest to work with Austin prior to the start of the 2017 playoffs, an announcement that embodied risk, urgency, and a genuine desire to work with Austin to find the right site.
“With the right site, we can build a world-class, privately financed $200 million soccer park and grounds. As we have said from the onset of this exploratory process, a location in the vibrant urban core where people live, work, and play is of paramount importance. This stadium location is a critical driver to the club’s long-term success.
“Based on the direction of the City of Austin Council and staff, we are conducting due diligence on a variety of sites, including city-owned parkland and city-owned land (non-parkland) suggested by the City on December 14, 2017 (Council Resolution No. 20171109-046). Independently, we also continue to explore a select list of privately held parcels.
“The initial list of sites provided by the city contains a variety of options, and we continue to carefully analyze each site recommended by the City. We started the process in earnest with Butler Shores because we were given early indications from city leaders that it is a viable, under-utilized site.
“Precourt Sports Ventures’ extensive due diligence work on the Butler Shores site included architectural renderings, landscape design, light, sound, parking, traffic and engineering studies. Understanding that parkland is a treasured community asset, and the creation of a successful soccer park and grounds within the landscape of parkland is a responsibility we take seriously, we also began to develop a package of community benefits tied to the creation of a soccer park on parkland. Based on our analysis, a public-private partnership of this nature could deliver community benefits in excess of $400 million in the club’s first 25 years, in the form of community investments, park improvements, soccer wellness and programming, wages and construction services, among others. If an MLS club were to play at a soccer park and grounds on city-owned parkland, the Austin community would also benefit from the broader social and economic impact. We encourage the City of Austin to independently verify this.
“We are still in the process of identifying the right stadium site in Austin, TX. We recognize some would prefer if this process were to move faster, however we believe that ultimately there is value in being thorough as opposed to being fast. And although we are willing to dedicate significant time and expense in this effort, we are not in a position to move to Austin if the right site is not identified.
“Additionally, we have engaged and hired a team of experts to help bring an Austin team to life, including: JP Morgan for financial expertise; Armbrust & Brown for legal and real estate counsel; CAA/ICON for project management oversight and feasibility; Gensler for sports architecture and design; Elizabeth Christian Public Relations for local media relations; two local branding and advertising agencies; local political advisors and consultants; among others.
“As we continue a dialogue with Austin about possible locations for a soccer facility in Austin’s urban core, we welcome new ideas and community input before any further decisions are made or actions are taken.
Elected officials and community leaders, as well as thousands of citizens, have repeatedly stated that they support the concept of establishing a home for Major League Soccer in Austin. We are hopeful that, if in the context of this conversation the best site is either parkland or city-owned land, the will of the people, across a spectrum of perspectives and districts, would be heard.”
Crew SC fans continue their efforts to support the team and keep it in Columbus. On March 8th, Save The Crew will hold a jersey design unveil event. Rodgers said a jersey will be introduced for fans where they can show support from the team moving without paying for jerseys that will benefit the team.