Texas district attorney investigating MLS, potential Crew SC move to Austin

FILE - In this June 14, 2017, file photo, Columbus Crew fans cheer before a U.S. Open Cup soccer match against FC Cincinnati, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
Texas district attorney investigating MLS, potential Crew SC move to Austin
Columbus Crew SC conflict of interest

There's a new wrinkle in the controversy over the possible relocation of the Columbus Crew SC to Austin, Texas.

Leaders in San Antonio say Major League Soccer allowing Crew SC to move to Austin would represent a conflict of interest, and now the district attorney's office in San Antonio is looking into the matter.

In a letter sent Friday from Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff to Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber, Wolff asks for clarification on San Antonio's bid for a Major League Soccer franchise.

The question was prompted by news that Columbus Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt is exploring moving the team to Austin. Wolff calls talk of the move "a complete surprise."

San Antonio has been pursuing a soccer franchise for two years, based in part, he says, on assurances that "Major League Soccer would not establish franchises in both Austin and San Antonio."

In a 2015 meeting, Wolff says the President of MLS "encouraged us to move forward"

San Antonio and Bexar County moved forward with the $18 million purchase of Toyota Field.

Wolff writes, "It has been widely reported that Mr. Precourt...obtained a legal right to relocate the Columbus Crew SC to Austin when he purchased the franchise in 2013. If these reports are accurate, this presents a clear conflict of interest. Had Bexar County officials been aware of such a right, we would not have invested in Toyota Field."

He writes, "I have a duty to the taxpayers of Bexar County to question this process and its fairness."

"In the meantime, I have asked the Bexar County Criminal District Attorney to thoroughly investigate the matter."

In a statement to 10TV, Major League Soccer said it is preparing a formal response but says "we strongly disagree with Judge Wolff's assertion that we misled either him or any public official about the prospects for San Antonio acquiring an MLS expansion team."

There have also been reports that Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt has reached an agreement with the University of Texas for use of their facilities in 2019.

Both the Crew SC and the University of Texas tell 10TV no such deal exists.

You can read the full letter from Judge Wolff by clicking here.

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