MLS still planning on Austin team as new Columbus Crew buyer emerges


COLUMBUS, Ohio (KXAN) — The Columbus Crew soccer club is on track to stay in Ohio as new buyers have emerged, Major League Soccer announced Friday. The organization said, regardless of what happens with the Crew, “there is a clear path forward” for an Austin team.

In August, the Austin City Council voted 7-4 to move forward with negotiations for a Major League Soccer stadium at McKalla Place in north Austin that would host a team billed as Austin FC.

The deal with Precourt Sports Ventures, which owns the Ohio-based Columbus Crew SC, aimed to have a stadium ready for the 2021 season. 

MLS said a statement Friday, “While timing for Austin FC is still to be finalized, we are confident that the team will begin play no later than 2021 at the new, privately financed stadium and soccer park at McKalla Place. We applaud the Austin community, city leaders and Precourt Sports Ventures for their commitment to making this happen.”

Austin City Council Member Leslie Pool, who traveled to Columbus to meet with Crew fans and voted against the stadium deal, said in a statement that Friday’s news sounds like a “big win” for Columbus fans.

“Austin may still get an expansion team, which is also good news for Austin sports fans. However, I believe now is the time to push the pause button on building a stadium on the McKalla site,” she said. “Let’s redouble our efforts here at home to respond to legitimate taxpayer concerns about the subsidized deal. We should solicit proposals for developing McKalla and rework a stadium deal that is fair to all stakeholders.”  

MLS said it had been working for several months to keep the Columbus Crew in Ohio, making “significant progress.”

The Haslam family, which owns the Cleveland Browns, and investor Pete Edwards Jr. were named as the buyers seeking to keep the Crew in Columbus.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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