Crew Fans Hold Rally To Keep Team In Columbus; Proposed Move Draws Criticism
Around 2,000 Crew fans yesterday congregated in front of Columbus City Hall to "voice their support" for the team and their "disapproval of the Precourt Sport Venture’s proposed move to Austin, Texas, if a new Downtown stadium isn’t built," according to Josh Horton of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Speakers addressed the crowd for about an hour, with "shouts of 'Save the Crew' and other popular chants" at Crew home games "sprinkled in between speeches." There were "several themes that rung throughout the rally, most notably that Crew supporters need to continue to be outspoken and not let the Save the Crew movement die and that the group is 'far from done'" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 10/23). ESPN’s Adrian Healey said the reaction within MLS to the proposed move has been "extreme and emotional." ESPN’s Taylor Twellman said, “This is a bigger shock to me than St. Louis losing two NFL franchises. However, my brain says, ‘I’m not surprised.’ The reason why is when you go to Columbus over the last four or five years and you see the numbers in the stands, in the stadium, in the city." All the business metrics show the Crew are "struggling,” but moving to the Austin market is a "massive shot in the dark.” Twellman asked, “If Columbus is a college town, what’s Austin? Austin is a college town. When you have 9-10 expansion cities vying for a spot and then all of a sudden you say, ‘We need to go to Austin.’ That is where my skepticism is.” ESPN’s Alejandro Moreno noted that when Crew Chair Anthony Precourt purchased the team in '13, the original agreement was to "stay in Columbus for at least 10 years but there was an 'out clause' which said if Precourt decides to move they’re relocating to Austin." Moreno said, “It’s impossible from the outside looking in to not put two and two together and think that was in the plans all along.” Moreno: “If that’s the case, that’s incredibly frustrating and it’s incredibly deceiving” (“ESPN FC,” ESPN2, 10/22).