MLS in Austin: Columbus Crew's owner gets a deal

Ten months after it was revealed Columbus Crew owner Anthony Precourt wanted to move his MLS team to Austin, the city took the first big step to making that happen.

The Austin city council approved by a vote of 7-4 a measure that allows the city staff to negotiate and execute a stadium agreement at city-owned McKalla Place with Precourt Sports Ventures.

After it backed away from projects at city-owned riverfront parks closer to downtown because of community opposition, Precourt Sports Venture directed its attention on McKalla Place and 24 acres of city-owned land in North Austin, its third choice and last option for the site of a soccer stadium that will cost the $200 million.

Framework for a deal. City council meetings extended into the late summer but the framework for a term sheet was negotiated, then re-negotiated and re-negotiated some more.

Among other things, the 25-page term sheet covered ...

-- Ownership. The city will retain ownership to the land.
-- Lease. It will charge PSV $550,000 in rent annually beginning in Year 6 of the agreement. Over the next 15 years -- the initial agreement is for 20 years -- that's $8.25 million in rent PSV will pay.
-- Revenues. PSV will retain all revenues from the stadium (minus taxes).
-- Site work. PSV will pay for site preparation and infrastructure around the stadium (estimated to cost at least $3 million).
-- Capital repairs. PSV and the city will share in putting money aside, also beginning in Year 6, to pay for capital repairs.

Wednesday's amendments. At Wednesday's council meeting, 28 proposed amendments to the term sheet were presented. A week earlier, one of the main points of contention at the council was PSV's community benefits agreement and how it neglected to cover girls programs. That did not come up on Wednesday as council members made their case to extract tougher terms out of PSV.

The amendments agreed to included one proposed by council member Delia Garza, who ended up supporting the stadium project. It calls for PSV to make $3 million in payments to the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority for transit-related improvements and $640,000 to bus and other transportation facilities. (The cost of moving a MetroRail line to next to the stadium is roughly $13 million.)

Back in Columbus ... PSV's plan is to have the stadium ready by the 2021 MLS season but leaves open the question of the Crew's future in Columbus and where the team would play if it moved after the current season.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has sued PSV and MLS and is seeking enforcement of a statute -- the so-called Modell Law -- requiring teams using tax-supported facilities to give notice -- six months -- and local investors a chance to buy the team. Just what constitutes notice and how negotiations take place are among the issues the court is grappling with.

MLS's position has been that it is reluctant to move the Crew, but any long-term situation in Columbus would require a better stadium situation that there is now -- MAPFRE Stadium, opened in 1999, is the oldest MLS soccer-specific stadium -- and significantly greater local corporate support.
5 comments about "MLS in Austin: Columbus Crew's owner gets a deal".
  1. R2 Dad, August 16, 2018 at 12:37 a.m.

    Seeing how poorly the re-lauching of the Earthquakes has gone after Garber let ownership move the franchise to Texas, I would hope Garber is careful not to repeat past mistakes. This is an opportunity for Carlos to step in and tell Garber--publicly and clearly--he ought to renounce this move. Why? Because Columbus has been instrumental in allowing this team to flourish. The City counts. Fans count. The stadium counts wrt Nats games there. Ownership is not the only one at the table here, despite what Garber and MLS think. Can Garber just ignore the Modell Law? I hope Columbus wins a big, messy, expensive, protracted court case where Garber gets to burn all his money on lawyer fees because he's a pompous windbag who needs to be taken down a few notches. The game is bigger than MLS, Teflon Don. It should be Carlos who administers the beat-down.

  2. Chris Lipscomb, August 16, 2018 at 2:10 a.m.

    Blah, blah...whine,whine...Look at the viewer stats for WC

  3. :: SilverRey :: replied, August 16, 2018 at 10:09 a.m.

    Look at the viewer stats for every other World Cup.

    I don't think anyone is against Austin getting a team.

    Everyone is against a trust-fund kid thinking he can steal a community treasure.

    If you think there is any argument for moving a team, look at SKC. They were worse off than Columbus, owned by out-of-state owners who weren't investing in the team or community - the same owners as the Crew (Hunts). Look what happened when they sold to a vested local ownership group.

    There is no good argument for relocation of the Columbus Crew.

  4. beautiful game, August 16, 2018 at 10:21 a.m.

    Well said R2Dad...Crew ownership has milked this franchise to the nth degree and MLS kahunas could care less for its supporters.

  5. Giorgio Cabanas, August 23, 2018 at 12:52 p.m.

    I don’t have a horse in this race but aren’t the attendance number in Columbus super low?

    Isn’t the stadium a glorified high school field with a lot of stands?

    Aren’t they hemmoraging money every quarter?

    If you were the owner and you’re losing money year after year and you play in one if if not the worst stadium in the league and you have an opportunity to move the team into a new market into a new stadium  where I’m sure actuaries have proved the moves profitability, would t you move your team too?

    Just because he’s rich doesn’t make it right to block a move that will make him money. This is a business. 

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