The owner of the Columbus Crew SC and Major League Soccer officials say they “strongly disagree” with the interpretation of a state law being used to try to keep the team from moving to Austin, Texas.
“Precourt Sports Ventures and Major League Soccer are disappointed that the Ohio Attorney General and the City of Columbus have chosen to commence litigation rather than encouraging public officials in Columbus to engage in constructive discussions about the future of Columbus Crew SC,” reads the statement from Precourt Sports Ventures and MLS.
The response came one day after Attorney General Mike DeWine and the city of Columbus invoked what’s known as the Modell Law in a lawsuit aimed at stopping Anthony Precourt from moving the soccer club to Austin in 2019.
The law says owners of teams that use public facilities or get public assistance have to get governmental consent to move, or give locals a chance to buy the team.
Mapfre Stadium sits on state-owned land, and the state recently spent $5 million to upgrade parking outside the stadium.
The Modell Law was adopted in 1996 after former Cleveland Brown owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore. The law has never been tested in court.
The statement from Precourt says the lawsuit “chooses to ignore both the facts and the law,” although it does not make a defined legal argument for how the club has complied with the law.
The statement echoes Precourt’s earlier comments about the Crew being at or near the bottom of MLS in both attendance and corporate support. It also repeats calls for a new downtown stadium in order for the Crew to remain viable in Columbus.
“Throughout this process, PSV and MLS have complied, and will continue to comply, with all relevant laws, but we strongly disagree with the AG’s and City’s interpretation of the Modell Law, its applicability to Columbus Crew SC, and the remedies they seek,” the statement ends.
Precourt has been working with business and city leaders in Austin to find a location for a new stadium. City leaders recently eliminated a second possible stadium site from consideration.