The fate of the Columbus Crew: an unclear, unfair waiting game

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The fate of the Columbus Crew: an unclear, unfair waiting game

Author

Gaby Kirschner
Gaby Kirschner

It’s been over a month since the news that Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt was trying to move the team to Austin, Texas. But very little has been concretely said or done since then, leaving fans waiting in the dark about the potentially devastating loss of their team.

For 35 days, Columbus Crew fans have been dealing with the thought that they might not have a team to support in 2019.

That’s a long 35 days of waiting. More importantly, that’s a long 35 days of not knowing. It’s one thing to drop this on fans; it’s another to keep them stewing in the news, giving them very little updates or information along the way.

There have been only a few developments in the past month, both coming in the past week, but still neither definitive.

Last Tuesday, Columbus leaders, including the major, met with Anthony Precourt and MLS commissioner Don Garber. The former came to the table hoping to find a way to keep the Crew in Columbus; the latter, well, clearly didn’t. The next day, Mayor Ginther and Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, released this statement: “We were united in putting all options on the table, with the expectation in return that the MLS and ownership would cease pursuing moving the team to Austin. Great American cities do not get into bidding wars over sports teams to benefit private owners. Garber and Precourt were not willing to do that today.”

Garber and Precourt countered with essentially the belief that the Columbus consortium had not come with anything concrete, merely a dreamy idea to keep the Crew in Columbus someway, somehow. And although the CEO of the Columbus Foundation countered just yesterday with a proposal for a downtown stadium — a new stadium being the #1 necessary item Precourt has indicated for any possibility of keeping the Crew in Columbus — it has still drawn skepticism in whether it would be truly possible or, like during the meeting, another fantasy idea. But at least the higher-ups who can affect the ultimate decision are trying.

Nor are Crew fans sitting idly, waiting on updates from the other side. They are doing everything they possibly can on their end to spread their cause and garner traction they hope will finally start to sway action, at least that in their favor; they’re getting every single fan — of any club, anywhere — to sign a letter they plan on sending to MLS, getting a #SaveTheCrew sign onto a College Gameday broadcast, holding rallies and flooding every MLS tweet with replies of “save the Crew.”

The uncertainty has made for an interesting postseason for Columbus supporters. One one side, they’ve upset with both the club’s ownership and the league’s tight-lipped refusal to acknowledge the situation; on the other side, they’ve had a pretty strong playoff run so far and can use the playoff matches as a way to rally support for the club, to prove that the club deserves to stay. After all, tonight’s Eastern Conference Final first leg was already announced as a sellout.

Would selling out every playoff game this year make a difference? Would an MLS Cup victory? Probably not. But at least the Crew fans and team can say they didn’t go down without a fight.

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