Anthony Precourt, who came to own the Columbus Crew thanks to his dad's extensive work for the good people at Halliburton, announced an attempt to extort the Discovery City for a new downtown stadium, of which he will reap all the profits.
If Columbus doesn't fork over tens of millions of dollars for a new downtown stadium, Precourt will move the city to Austin, Texas—a city desperate enough to have an MLS franchise that they'll erect Precourt his shrine.
Precourt Sports Ventures outlined concerns with attendance and corporate sponsorship and a “disparity” in those areas between the Crew and other midsize markets in the league, listing Kansas City, Orlando, Portland and Salt Lake City as examples. The Crew is 20th in attendance out of 22 MLS teams with an average of 15,439.
“I will say this: We need to have the confidence in the marketplace in order to build a word-class, state of the art, soccer-specific stadium,” Precourt said. “Stadiums are a significant investment these days and so we’re going to have to have confidence in the corporate support for premium seating and tickets and for the stadium to come to life.”
It should be noted the Crew's current stadium, erected in 1999, is fine and routinely hosts United States men's soccer games. The location could be better, sure, but that onus falls on the billionaire owner and the league to figure out.
The Crew are also the original franchise in MLS, so it's sweet that the league, which is a Ponzi scheme, has allowed this weak-ass extortion attempt to progress this far.
If the people of Austin want to be idiots and pay millions of dollars to this grifter, fine. The Crew are well and good, but no city should bend over to allow a sports owner to profiteer on its citizens' hard-earned cash.
UPDATE (10:53 a.m.): Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther issued a statement saying the city did not receiver full engagement from ownership, making it look more and more like Precourt's plan from the beginning was to move to the team to a more lucrative market after buying for a discounted price.