SBD/March 5, 2013/Franchises

Clark Hunt Once Again States Committment To Crew While Still Looking For Local Investors

Crew Stadium will see further investment while a new training facility is sought
MLS Crew Owner Clark Hunt once again said that Hunt Sports Group "remains on the lookout for local investors but is committed to both Columbus and the Crew," according to Adam Jardy of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Hunt reiterated what he said in the fall by saying that the team's search for more local ownership "does not mean that his family plans to sell a majority stake in the Crew or move the team." He said, "Our desire is to continue to control the club." The Crew in '98 "had 22 minority owners; together, they owned a 45 percent stake in the club." The Crew since has "kept ownership figures private." But Hunt said that his family now "owns 'very close to 100 percent' of the team." The "chief local investor" is Pizzuti Sports Limited Head Ron Pizzuti. The Crew's front office has "publicized two goals yet to be achieved to help the Crew become financially solvent: finding a naming-rights partner for Crew Stadium and reaching 10,000 season-ticket holders." The organization is "mum on how many season tickets have been sold." But Hunt said, “I will say that the Crew had one of the largest percentage increases in our fan base last year across Major League Soccer, which I think shows the growth, but we still have a ways to go." Hunt said that the Crew for now will "continue to invest in Crew Stadium while seeking a new training facility." He added that the team is "in discussions with potential developers for a new practice complex with at least a dozen attached youth fields" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 3/3).

CREW CUT? Hunt regarding whether or not HSG would sell the club said, "No. Our goal is to [be] successful with the Goal 10K campaign and also to find additional local investors, and really the two go together." As far as the club's goals of finding a stadium naming-rights sponsor and reaching 10,000 season-ticket holders, Hunt said that naming rights "might be of bigger importance." Should the Crew achieve those two goals plus the third goal of finding local investors, Hunt said, "I think it would mean for the first time in the history of the organization we would be a financially stable enterprise that's at least in a break-even situation in the league." He added that he is "pleased with the job" team President & GM Mark McCullers is doing (DISPATCH.com, 3/3).
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