Another domino fell on Friday in the efforts to bring a Major League Soccer team to Austin.
The league announced an agreement in principle with the Haslam family, owners of the NFL's Cleveland Browns, and the Columbus-based Edwards family, to become MLS owners and take over operating rights of Columbus Crew SC.
“After several months of discussions, we are extremely pleased to have reached an agreement in principle with the Haslam and Edwards families for them to assume an ownership position in Major League Soccer and operate Columbus Crew SC starting in January 2019," MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement.
Earlier on Friday, the City of Columbus and the state of Ohio filed to dismiss their joint lawsuit against Major League Soccer and Precourt Sports Ventures.
The City of Austin and PSV agreed on the term sheet to build a 20,000-seat stadium at McKalla Place to host Austin FC not long ago, which is scheduled to be open before the 2021 season.
With Anthony Precourt’s sale of the Crew, Friday’s news in Columbus clears the way for an official MLS in Austin announcement.
“We are pleased with the lawsuit dismissal and the outcome that will ensure Major League Soccer teams in both Austin and Columbus,” Precourt said in a statement. “This elegant solution is the culmination of many months of hard work from Commissioner Garber, the Haslam and Edwards’ families, the local Columbus community, and Precourt Sports Ventures.
"We are happy for the people of Columbus and Crew SC supporters, who helped rally local government and business leaders to keep Crew SC in Columbus. We are proud to have built a strong club which is in position to be successfully transitioned to new operators in 2019.”
The Haslam family will be the third group with a stake in both an NFL team and an MLS squad, joining Robert Kraft (New England Revolution) and Arthur Blank (Atlanta United).
The new Crew owners are expected to build a stadium in downtown Columbus in the coming years.
"While we work to finalize the deal promptly, we want to state publicly the tremendous collaboration and community support for Crew SC, which has set the stage for a powerful plan that includes a world-class soccer stadium – a critical step that will help ensure the club’s success on and off the field," Garber said in a statement.