MLS Seems To Want Columbus To Pay $155 Million+ For What We Already Have

News yesterday on the Crew front: MLS and Anthony Precourt let city leadership know that Columbus would be welcome to apply for an MLS expansion team once the Crew are relocated to Austin

What would this cost?

  • $5 million – Application fee
  • $150 million – current expansion fee (no reports have said MLS would waive this, and it’s hard to believe they would forego the fee when other cities are lining up to pay)
  • $??? million – a new downtown stadium, which would presumably still need to be built to win an expansion franchise

That’s what a successful bid would cost. It feels unlikely that MLS would place another team in Columbus, so it really just feels like mockery and a proposal for Columbus to gift MLS $5 million for no reason.

Adding insult to injury doesn’t sufficiently describe this invitation to apply for an expansion team.

Of course, if they guaranteed Columbus an expansion team, this would be a very different story. I’d help Anthony Precourt pack myself.

Meanwhile, in Austin it looks like a stadium placed on park land (the most likely scenario) would probably need voter approval:

An election over bringing the Crew SC soccer team — currently based in Columbus, Ohio — to Austin for the 2019 season is becoming a growing possibility as parkland in the core of the city is emerging as a potential location for a stadium that would need to seat at least 20,000 people.

Austin City Council has ordered the city to research what city-owned land could be used for a MLS stadium, including parkland. Several media reports show that Butler Shores Metropolitan Park has emerged as the most attractive location for Precourt.

The park sits in a choice spot along Lady Bird Lake, just behind the Zach Theatre where Barton Creek empties into the Lady Bird Lake. It also meets Precourt’s goal of having a stadium in the city’s core.

But repurposing the parkland would likely trigger a public election, something Precourt’s lobbyist Richard Suttle said Precourt’s company would prefer to avoid.

Texas law states that no parkland can be sold at any price without voter approval. Austin’s city charter underlines the law, adding restrictions for leasing parkland as well. A drastic change in purpose for parkland would also trigger an election under state law.

The story goes on to note that Precourt wants a land deal by January 1st. One way or the other, things will begin moving very quickly once the Crew are done with the MLS playoffs. Columbus soccer fans should be rooting for Austin parkland use to need a November 2018 election. Anything that throws a wrench in Precourt’s plans is a positive.

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