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MLS, Crew SC owner want city of Columbus lawsuit thrown out

Mar 17, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin (6) takes a free kick against the Columbus Crew during the first half at Talen Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Soccer and the investor-operator of Crew SC have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit aimed at keeping the team in Columbus.

Citing arguments against the validity of Ohio Revised Code 9.67, the “Art Modell Law,” MLS and Precourt Sports Ventures say the lawsuit filed in March by the city of Columbus and the state of Ohio should be thrown out. They say Ohio’s law does not apply because of the league’s single-entity structure in which the teams are run by “investor-operators.”

“This court should decline Plaintiffs’ invitation to weaponize R.C. 9.67 and should instead dismiss the complaint for the reasons herein,” the 25-page motion for dismissal reads, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

The state’s Modell Law, formed in response to the Cleveland Browns relocation in 1996, aims to prevent pro sports teams that receive public financial assistance from moving. Owners using tax-supported facilities and receiving financial assistance from the state or cities must give at least six months notice and give someone else an opportunity to purchase the team. The lawsuit alleges that the Crew SC accepted about $5 million in state taxpayer-funded improvements to their parking facilities, among other public assistance.

Precourt Sports Ventures last October announced it is exploring a relocation of Crew SC to Austin, Texas.

The city of Columbus is trying to facilitate a potential purchase of the team.

As legal drama unfolds in Columbus, Precourt Sports Ventures awaits the study of a potential stadium site in Austin.

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