On Oct. 9, 2018, another deadline came and went in Precourt Sports Ventures’ negotiations with the City of Austin for a stadium lease on the McKalla Place site. The term sheet that was approved by the Austin City Council on Aug. 15 listed Oct. 9 as a date where PSV or the City of Austin could independently terminate the stadium deal if an agreement had not yet been reached.
At the time of this publication, a stadium agreement has not been reached. Now either Austin or PSV can decide that they don’t like the deal that is being negotiated.
However, this Oct. 9 deadline does not represent a hard deadline for the stadium deal to be completed and it is currently unlikely that either side will terminate. A spokesperson for the City of Austin told the Austin Statesman that negotiations were still moving forward, and that the deadline was a “fail-safe” that will allow either party to back out if a significant roadblock materializes.
This statement doesn’t bring much good news for Columbus Crew SC fans but it also is not cause for concern. By all accounts, the City of Austin has shared a stadium deal with PSV and is in the process of finalizing the language of the deal. But, the Oct. 9 deadline could add a bit of drama to what seems like a smooth negotiation process. For example, if the City of Austin decides that it would like a more stringent relocation clause or an increased community benefits package, PSV could either threaten to or actually terminate the agreement. The same goes for Austin should PSV decide it wants a more generous rental package, for example.
Precourt and MLS still have multiple hurdles to clear if they want to begin play in Austin in March of 2019. It’s the middle of October — nearly a year after Crew SC investor/operator Anthony Precourt announced the possibility of moving to to Austin — and PSV has still been unable to fully agree to a stadium deal with the city. Other teams in MLS, including Crew SC, have been selling 2019 season tickets for weeks and future Ohio MLS team FC Cincinnati begins selling their inaugural season tickets on Oct. 15. A hypothetical Austin team still has not secured a place to play in 2019.
There are also multiple deadlines in Ohio that are preventing PSV from fully committing to a move. The City of Columbus and PSV argued their competing motions to dismiss the trial stemming from the “Modell Law” on Sept. 4 and a ruling has still yet to be handed down more than one month later. Judge Brown has until Dec. 3, 2018 to make his ruling and seems to be taking his time. The Judge has already vocalized his preference for a settlement in this case, so it’s likely he takes his time drafting his ruling while letting Columbus and PSV continue whatever settlement negotiation is ongoing.
PSV also has an impending deadline approaching with the City of Obetz on their training facility. Crew SC’s lease on the Obetz facility runs through December 31 of this year. The initial deadline for PSV to notify Obetz of their desire to renew, or not renew, the lease was 90 days before then, which would have been Oct. 2. An extension was requested and granted, pushing the new deadline to renew or not renew the Obetz lease to Dec. 1.
The Oct. 9 deadline passing may not mean much in the Crew SC relocation saga, but it does show an ownership group that is juggling multiple deadlines and negotiations in the hope of fielding a soccer team in a seemingly ambivalent city in less than five months.