While this news seems like the city's best chance to land a franchise in one of the five major sports leagues (Austin is the largest metro area in North America without one), local soccer fans should not run out to start buying Austin Crew kits just yet.
Club owner Anthony Precourt announced on Tuesday that he will move them to Austin in 2019 if they can't finalize a new downtown soccer stadium.
Columbus Crew has been long plagued by low attendance numbers. At the time, it was the nation's first major league stadium built specifically for soccer, according the the team's website. Austin will have votes on a possible soccer stadium in December and in June 2018. "Soccer is the world's game, and with Austin's growing presence as an global city, combined with its strong multicultural foundation, MLS in Austin could be an ideal fit".
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"The stadium site itself is of paramount importance and we recognize that private funding will be key in any stadium solution", Precourt said.
Precourt also said any move to Austin has a MLS-approved stadium plan as a prerequisite.
If you woke up this morning wondering why Columbus Crew is trending on Twitter, here's your answer: Sports Illustrated reported late Monday night the team might be moving to Austin, Texas, after next season.
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"As attendance league-wide continues to grow on a record-setting pace, and markets across the country seek to join MLS, Columbus' situation is particularly concerning", MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a news release.
"The owner has made a decision to pursue multiple options, including Austin and a new stadium that is being planned down there", Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, tells the Dispatch. "Those conversations turned up the fact that ownership had been in extensive conversations over the last number of months with leaders in Austin about a possible new stadium and moving the team there". A USL team was planned for Austin in 2019, but the future of that seems to be unknown if the Crew does indeed move there.
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