Columbus business leader says Precourt re-opens dialogue in Ohio

  • Chris Bils
  • cbils@hookem.com
8:32 p.m Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 Sports
A Columbus business leader says that Crew SC operator Anthony Precourt has spoken with potential local investors in Ohio. CREDIT: Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

In a lengthy interview with the Columbus Dispatch on Friday, Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer said Anthony Precourt has been in touch with potential local investors with interest in keeping the Crew SC in the Ohio capital.

“I know that they’ve had some good preliminary conversations and I think that’s a good sign,” he told the Dispatch.

Fischer told the American-Statesman that the Q&A was a response to the comments made by Don Garber in an interview with Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated earlier this week. Fischer called the MLS commissioner’s quotes an “olive branch.”

“The press was asking us a lot of questions about it, so it seemed reasonable to give our perspective on things since the commissioner was talking about it as well,” Fischer said.

He also said that he has been monitoring the situation in Austin, including the announcement from PSV withdrawing interest in Butler Shores Metropolitan Park, their preferred stadium site.

“It kind of looked like (PSV) were going for broke and being pretty tone deaf leading up to (Friday),” he said. “Now to abruptly change kind of generally mirrors the experience that we’ve had with them in Columbus.”

In order for the Crew to stay in Columbus, Garber told Sports Illustrated that the number one priority would be to resolve the stadium situation. That remains the top goal in Austin, albeit with a different target than the one first established.

A popular spot that has been suggested in Columbus is a 40-acre plot of land in the city’s Arena District owned by Nationwide Realty, the real-estate development affiliate of Nationwide Insurance.

“Hopefully that local investor is Nationwide Realty that can bring the land to the table,” said longtime Columbus attorney and sports agent Bret Adams.

Crew fans and leaders of the Save The Crew movement were pleased to hear from Fischer, whose last public comments came after a meeting with PSV and Garber on Nov. 15 in New York.

“It’s heartening to know that there has indeed been some semblance of parallel paths,” said Morgan Hughes, a spokesman for Save The Crew. “I hope that Major League Soccer and Precourt Sports Ventures are engaging in those talks in a way that is legitimate and not just a token conversation.”