COLUMBUS, Ohio (WTVN) -- The Owner of Columbus Crew SC has confirmed the team may pick up and move to Austin, Texas in 2019.
Owner Anthony Precourt says the team has struggled in recent years with attendance, corporate sponsorships, and season ticket sales. Precourt says the team needs a state-of-the-art, soccer-specific stadium in downtown Columbus to remain sustainable in Columbus.
He calls Mapfre Stadium a liability, saying operating world-class soccer infrastructure is imperative to being a stand-bearer in the league.
Precourt says the team will still play in Columbus in 2018, and he does not want any taxpayer money to fund a new stadium. Columbus is 20th out of 22 MLS teams in attendance this season, according to Columbus Business First.
Precourt said he did not receive any serious offers from investors, but Columbus Business First is reporting that the Columbus Partnership offered to buy a 50% stake in the club.
Precourt also denied reports that there was already a deal in place to have the team play their home games at the University of Texas-Austin in 2019.
The Crew has played in Columbus since 1996, as the charter member of Major League Soccer. The team played at Ohio Stadium before Crew Stadium, now Mapfre Stadium, opened in 1999. It was the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States.