Although it’s made up of numerous people and working parts, a sports team is a relatively nebulous entity that can fairly simply up and leave its home. That’s what Columbus Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt is threatening at the moment.
But a soccer stadium? That’s not so easy to just up and move.
This is a soccer club, after all, not a turtle.
But a story this week in Columbus Business First indicates that Precourt — more specifically, his business entity Precourt Sports Ventures — may be on the hook for MAPFRE Stadium as well.
According to the CBF story, written by Laura Newpoff, Precourt’s agreement to purchase the team in 2013 also included the stadium lease (specifically, for the land upon which the stadium sits), which won’t be up until June 2023.
The story lays out a few options, should Precourt default on the stadium lease:
- The lease could be terminated, the organization evicted and the stadium leased out to someone else. (This is the least applicable, considering that the tenant would have already vacated, rather than tried to use the facility without paying.)
- The lease could be terminated and Crew SC (i.e., Precourt) could be held responsible for “removing all structures at the team’s expense.”
- Should Crew SC default on said lease, the Ohio Expositions Commission, which owns the land involved in the lease, would not be responsible for any legal fees, Precourt would.
There is specific language in the contract, Newpoff writes, that states that OEC can require Precourt “to remove all project facilities from the property and to restore the property as near as reasonably possible to its condition prior to commencement of this lease,” all on the team owner’s dime.
In another interesting note, the contract’s language states that: "Lessee shall pursue in good faith those steps reasonably necessary to secure another professional sports team whose use of the stadium would be consistent with the design of the stadium.”
It also states, according to the story, that failure to secure a professional sports tenant for MAPFRE Stadium would not be grounds for termination of the lease, and Precourt would still be expected to pay up.
Of course, Precourt may not care about any of this. He may be perfectly willing to pay out the rest of the lease while he soaks up the sun in Austin, Texas, and the stadium and ground in Columbus goes mostly unused (except, perhaps, for the occasional concert).
But it is another aspect of the ever-growing saga that clearly would punish Precourt’s pocket book in one way or another.
According to the CBF article, the current rent for the stadium is $72,000 a year, a number that is adjusted annually “based on consumer price index.” That’s not a huge chunk of change, considering that getting a player like Gaston Sauro (approximately $600,000 in salary per year) would essentially cover the rest of the lease term.
In reviewing the lease agreement document, it appears, though, that at the time of expiration in 2023, the OEC could still require Precourt Sports Ventures to remove the stadium and return the grounds to their original state.
The irony, of course, is that the one thing Precourt claims he must shed in order to be successful in Columbus might be shackled to him even if he runs off to Austin, Texas.
If you like legalese with your lunch, here’s a copy of the full OEC-Crew lease document: