Crew To Move To Austin Barring New Downtown Stadium

The owner of the Crew SC says the team will move to Austin, Texas, unless a new stadium is built in Columbus. Mapfre Stadium, the home of the Crew, was built in 1999 and was the first soccer-specific stadium in MLS, but the stadium has not modernized or kept up with new soccer-specific stadiums across the league. The Crew are one of MLS' original teams and won the MLS Cup in 1998, and this move probably wouldn't settle well with most of MLS and its fans. "Soccer is the world's game, and with Austin's growing presence as an worldwide city, combined with its strong multicultural foundation, MLS in Austin could be an ideal fit".

While Precourt did not confirm a date for the move, he did admit the team is looking at relocation options, with Austin featuring heavily in his released statement.

The group reportedly is close to a deal with the University of Texas at Austin to host games there in 2019 and 2020 at Mike Myers Stadium, where the women's team plays, before beginning play in 2021 in a new stadium. A spokesperson for the relocation effort said Tuesday morning that public funding would not be sought for a stadium.

Precourt purchased the team and stadium for $68 million in 2013. Alex Fischer, the president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, a group of 60 Columbus business leaders and CEOs, told SI.com that Precourt had rejected all offers to sell even a partial stake to local investors.

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According to MLS Commissioner Don Garber, the Crew is near the bottom of the league in all business metrics, including attendance and franchise value.

Austin, which is set to launch a franchise in the second-tier USL in 2019, was not one of 12 markets that submitted bids for expansion sides in January as MLS looks to reach 28 clubs in the coming years.

In 1995, the owner of the Phoenix Firebirds minor league baseball team wanted to move his team to the Capital City and rename the team the Austin Swing, as long as the city would help finance a 12,000-seat stadium on the Colorado River.

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