Ohio AG, City of Columbus file lawsuit over plans to move Crew SC

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.
Published:
Updated:

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Attorney General and the city of Columbus have sued Major League Soccer and the owner of the Columbus Crew SC to stop a proposed move to Austin, Texas.

Crew owner Anthony Precourt announced the possible move last fall.

The lawsuit cites a law enacted after the original Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996 that prohibits sports teams that have received public money from moving unless certain conditions are met.

The law says Ohio sports teams using publicly supported facilities must provide six months of advance notice of a move. They must also allow cities or residents near sports facilities a chance to buy the team.

The lawsuit alleges that the Crew SC and its affiliates have:

  • accepted the benefits of approximately $5 million in state taxpayer-funded improvements to their parking facilities.
  • accepted state property tax exemption for the land on which the Crew SC’s home field, Mapfre Stadium, sits.
  • leased that land from the state at a below-market rate.
  • accepted more than $300,000 in city taxpayer-funded reimbursements of their costs in moving portions of a storm sewer and constructing a water line.
  • entered into a Tax Increment Financing and Economic Development Agreement with the city of Columbus to extend Silver Drive to increase access to Mapfre Stadium currently costing the city $1.3 million in tax revenue with the potential total cost of more than $2.1 million.

“Today I have filed a lawsuit in Franklin County to try to #SaveTheCrew and keep the black and gold in Columbus,” said DeWine. “Loyal Crew fans in Columbus have invested their time and loyalty in this team, and they have allowed the Crew SC to capitalize from financial incentives paid for by their tax dollars. I am left with no other choice than to file this suit to ensure our laws are followed.”

Major League Soccer and Precourt Sports Ventures released a joint statement saying, "Major League Soccer and Precourt Sports Ventures are aware of and are reviewing the litigation filed by the Ohio Attorney General. MLS and PSV will make an additional statement tomorrow following a review of the complaint.”

Filed under: