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Columbus Crew SC exploring relocation to Austin, TX - sources

Columbus Crew SC exploring relocation to Austin, TX - sources
From ESPN - October 16, 2017

The investor/operator of the Columbus Crew SC is considering relocating the team to Austin, Texas unless the city of Columbus can come up with a plan for a new downtown stadium, sources confirmed to ESPN FC.

SI.com was the first to tweet the news, while the Columbus Dispatch was first to publish the details.

Anthony Precourt, the CEO of Precourt Sports Ventures, and the chairman of Crew SC has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday, at which he plans to discuss his plans.

ESPNFC.com has learned that Precourt intends to explore concurrent paths towards a stadium in each market. Precourt has been frustrated at the team's inability to increase revenue streams in terms of overall attendance, sponsorship, and season tickets. With one week to go in the regular season, the Crew's attendance ranks 20th out of 22 teams.

Precourt has also grown weary of playing games at aging MAPFRE Stadium, a no-frills venue which opened in 1999 as the first-in-the-league soccer specific stadium. Precourt purchased the team from previous owners Hunt Sports Group in 2013. But according to the Dispatch, the purchase agreement contained a promise to keep the team in Columbus for at least 10 years. Critically, it included an out clause in case Precourt wanted to move the team to Austin.

One source told the Dispatch that a deal to host home games at the University of Texas is "all but done" for 2019. The Dispatch also reported that Precourt paid a premium price of $68 million for the team in 2013 because he intended to move it.

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