The Columbus Crew will seemingly stay in Ohio, but the plans to bring Major League Soccer to Austin have not changed.
A group including Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam and Columbus-based Edwards Companies chairman Pete Edwards, Jr., have been working with MLS on a plan to purchase in the team and keep it in Central Ohio, they announced Friday.
The development comes almost a full year after Anthony Precourt announced his intentions to bring the first major professional sports team to Austin, and his plan is still on track.
“Major League Soccer is excited to move forward with Precourt Sports Ventures and their vision for Austin FC,” the league said in a statement.” Regardless of any scenario in Columbus, there is a clear path forward for PSV to operate Austin FC as a Major League Soccer club.”
Austin City Council approved a term sheet in August regarding a soccer-specific stadium at McKalla Place. The City has been negotiating with PSV ever since, and Friday’s news in Columbus will not change the expected resolution in December.
“From the City of Austin’s perspective this does not change the ongoing negotiations between the City and Precourt Sports Ventures,” the City said in a statement. “We look forward to bringing Major League Soccer and the community benefits that come with it to Austin and working with PSV on making that a reality.”
As to when Austin FC will take the field or be officially announced is yet to be determined.
The quoted completion time for the stadium in the original term sheet said it would be ready for the 2021 MLS season.
MLS sited the support form the Austin government, corporate community and soccer fans and reiterated that the City presents a great opportunity for growth of MLS, but said plans are still being finalized.
In September, IndyAustin started a petition aimed at adding an item to the ballot that would require PSV to pay property taxes on the stadium as well as infrastructure on the area surrounding McKalla Place.
“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,” MLS said Friday in a statement. “We applaud the Austin community, city leaders and Precourt Sports Ventures for their commitment to making this happen.”