MLS Commissioner Don Garber isn’t laughing about the Columbus lawsuit.
Major League Soccer, which has had a terrible time finding expansion cities with a potential owner and a state of the art MLS stadium, is now watching a court preceding that could hasten or impede the Columbus Crew’s ownership effort to relocate the team to Austin, Texas. An Ohio judge will be meeting with Crew ownership, the MLS, the state of Ohio and the city of Columbus to see if an agreement can be worked out in the Columbus and Ohio’s lawsuit against Crew owners and the MLS in an effort to keep the team in Ohio.
Crew ownership wants to move to Austin except there is a significant hurdle in the way. Austin has no MLS stadium. Crew ownership has given the Austin city council a deadline. Approve our stadium proposal by June 28 or else. Just what that or else could be is anybody’s guess. Austin has a site available to build a soccer stadium but the city and Crew owners have not sat down and discussed how to proceed with the construction of a 20,000 seat soccer facility. Crew ownership claims it will pay for the building. If Crew ownership does decide to move to Austin and a deal is worked out, the team would begin play in March 2019 at a temporary facility. But there is no temporary facility available at the moment. Because of the Ohio lawsuit, Crew owners might have to listen to Columbus area bidders who might want to buy the team and keep them in Ohio. The MLS never considered Austin as a potential expansion city when the league decided in 2017 to find an additional four markets. Twelve cities applied. So far, the MLS has found just one city with the right stuff for a team, Nashville. There is a long way to go in Austin’s quest to get the MLS team and Columbus’s efforts to retain it.
Crew owners want to leave Columbus.