Community support pours in for MLS Columbus team to move to Austin

Major League Soccer meet-and-greet event on Nov. 1, 2017 (KXAN Photo)
Major League Soccer meet-and-greet event on Nov. 1, 2017 (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — For the first time in weeks, since news the Columbus Crew major league soccer franchise announced it is considering relocating to Texas’ capital city, the president of Precourt Sports Ventures, which owns the professional team, spoke publicly about the possibility in Austin.

“We look at Austin as a modern-day trendsetter for Major League Soccer,” said Dave Greeley, president of Precourt Sports Ventures, during an MLS2ATX event Wednesday evening at an area bar. “This is about us. This is about Austin. So, we want all supporter groups to come together to embrace our club.”

And, if standing room only was any indicator of the community’s show of support for the sport of soccer, there’s no question the team could have a future in Austin.

“My vote would be ‘yes.’ If they can make it happen, I would be very excited and go out and support,” said Austin resident Natalie Caradonio.

Austinites who showed up to the question and answer event had the chance to ask Greeley what the move means for MLS, the city of Columbus, and the city of Austin moving forward.

Some of those questions, however, were left unanswered — at least for right now.

“This is a process that’s just beginning. We don’t know an end date. We don’t know an end time. We don’t know the ending,” said Greeley, telling the crowd he’d need their support to make the move a reality.

In the meantime, Greeley says Precourt Sports Ventures would need to decide where the team would play.

“We’re just going to have to figure out where’s the best place for a stadium, but also, where’s the best place for a training facility as we look at the facilities,” he said.

On Nov. 9, a resolution will go before the Austin City Council directing the city manager to identify city-owned sites that could be used by a Major League Soccer team.

Greeley says the resolution “basically says they are going to work with Precourt Sports Ventures to look at the possibility of utilizing city-owned land for a privately-financed stadium and it might include underutilized park land near the downtown core.”

MLS2ATX supporters say they’re on board.

“Austin is interested and will do our best to support a professional, top-level team,” said Christopher Murphy, who attended the event. “We’re looking forward to 2019. Hopefully we get a team and if we do, we’ll be there.”

However, given soccer’s history in Austin, Murphy says he’s not getting his hopes up, either.

“No, I’m not confident. It looks like it. There’s a very good chance, but nothing’s certain,” he added.

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