Recent legal events with the local MLS team give Columbus another chance to buy their rights

By Ally Melnik, ’18

Following the fall 2017 shock of Columbus Crew owner, Anthony Precourt, announcing his plan to move the team to Austin, TX, the city of Columbus retaliated to attempt to keep the soccer team here.

Ohio attorney general, Mike DeWine, and the city of Columbus recently sued MLS and Precourt Sports Venture (PSV) in March saying they violated the 1996 legislation that the owner of a sports team can’t move their team if they use tax-funded facilities (ex. stadiums, parking lots, etc) without giving a six-month’s notice. On April 20, however, they dismissed the lawsuit, due to PSV and MLS citing the motion as unconstitutional.

Prior to the actual lawsuit, DeWine had threatened PSV back in October when the relocation announcement was first made. The time between the threat and the lawsuit saw no definite action that would dictate the Crew’s home for the 2019 season.

When the lawsuit was filed, it was in hopes to give the Crew time to be bought out by local business owners to keep the team in Columbus. By April, the lawsuit was seen as unconstitutional due to misnaming the owner of the Crew — the lawsuit claimed MLS as the owner of the team instead of Precourt, but both were being sued — as well as supposed discrimination against out-of-state residents and conduction of interstate commerce, according to ESPN.

ABC6 reported at the end of April that MLS and PSV did in fact meet with local investors willing to buy the Crew to keep them in Columbus (the name of the investors was not given). An affidavit from March revealed that “MLS officials met with potential local investors in Columbus… more recently, counsel for MLS contacted counsel for the Attorney General to reiterate its willingness to talk to interested bidders.”

As of now, the whereabouts of the Crew for the 2019 season is still unknown to everyone involved. Talks between MLS, PSV and the cities of Columbus and Austin will continue.