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Crew SC owners present ‘Commitment to the Community’ letter to Austin

FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2017 file photo, Columbus Crew fans show their support for the team before the start of their MLS Eastern Conference semifinal soccer match against New York City FC, in Columbus, Ohio. If the Columbus Crew are allowed to move to Austin for the 2019 season, it could begin a wave of franchise relocations that ultimately costs Major League Soccer the support of its most loyal fans. In the end, America’s top soccer league could wind up being as big a loser as the good people of Ohio’s capital city.(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

Precourt Sports Ventures, which owns Crew SC, continued to build its case Tuesday for studying a site in Austin, Texas, for a Major League Soccer stadium, releasing a four-page “Commitment to the Community” letter detailing the benefits of an MLS team.

The letter, addressed to Austin city council members and Mayor Steve Adler, comes days after Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo drafted a resolution that would authorize the city manager to analyze McKalla Place, a 24-acre tract in north Austin, and identify community stakeholders.

The resolution has been posted for city council’s meeting March 22, but Tovo has said she intends to postpone discussion until April since several council member will be absent. Precourt Sports Ventures, which is considering leaving Columbus and Mapfre Stadium after this season, reiterated in the letter that it would privately finance the construction of a $200 million stadium and said an MLS team would bring Austin “in excess of $326 million.”

“We strongly believe, based on polling, other research, demographics and the dynamic personality of Austin, this community is an ideal fit for Major League Soccer — young, multicultural, digitally sophisticated, and a great 21st Century American metropolitan area to live, work and play,” the letter read. “If we earn the privilege, our club, which will become the hometown club for all of Austin to embrace, will be a great contributor to this community for generations to come, bringing all Austinites together under a common cause.”

The letter, written by Precourt Sports president Dave Greeley and Crew investor-operator Anthony Precourt, was presented as a “conversation starter” for city council discussions. Among the benefits spelled out in the letter are: $6.25 million in using local companies for stadium construction, $2.5 million in direct cash contributions to nonprofit organizations, $4 million in charitable donations, and community use of the stadium.

Precourt Sports also laid out the possibility of alliances with local youth soccer clubs in Austin, youth soccer camps and clinics and operation of an academy system for elite players. The Crew has an existing academy system but announced this month that it would branch off its youth development wing to an outside organization, Sporting Columbus, starting in May.

The ownership group included estimates of 750-plus stadium management jobs for local residents as well as 100-plus front office jobs and the development of an “annual concert featuring local musicians.”

Mapfre Stadium has had a concert event, the three-day Rock on the Range, every year since 2007. Precourt and Greeley note that the figure of $326 million, which differs from a previous community benefit estimate of $400 million, comes as a result of the ownership group’s focus on McKalla Place and not on parkland. Earlier efforts in Austin had focused on Butler Shores, a park close to downtown, but those efforts ran into public opposition.

“If given the opportunity, we would fulfill the public trust to maximize Austin’s enjoyment of this city-owned site,” the letter concluded.

(c)2018 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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