With the Crew SC move to Austin somewhere between limbo and fiction, the second division United Soccer League has provided owner Bobby Epstein the go ahead for the final stages of preparing the new franchise to hit the field next season in Austin.
Franchise owner, and chairman of the Circuit of the Americas racecourse, Bobby Epstein, told the American-Statesman, “The league has told us we’ve got to get our franchise started or we risk losing it.”
Spoke with Bobby Epstein about USL's green light of his Austin team: "The USL was really very understanding when the Crew said they were (considering) moving here and they let us go into a wait and see mode." (1/2) #CrewSC— Andrew Erickson (@AEricksonCD) February 26, 2018
The USL wants a team to play in the Texas state capital in 2019 and seems to be doing everything possible to make it happen. This is a drastic change in tone from the fall of last year when the league told Epstein to hold off on preparations to join the league after news broke of Precourt Sports Ventures’ plans to potentially move Columbus Crew SC to Austin.
Since then, PSV has hit many roadblocks in the attempts to secure a stadium site in a viable area, much less with public funding provided. With every hurdle, and every month that passes, the chances of Crew SC remaining in it’s birth city seem more likely. The USL board has recognized this and is proceeding with its plans to be the first league to provide professional sports to the city Austin with a stadium already planned in the center of the Circuit of the Americas.
Epstein said this in Nov.: "I know Columbus, they don’t want to look at it as a step down from MLS to USL, but I need a new home." Still think if #MLS2ATX gets done there'd be a chance of Columbus getting that USL team or another. Quickly. But strong words from Epstein today.— Andrew Erickson (@AEricksonCD) February 26, 2018
It is entirely possible that Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt has run out of options for securing a stadium site and the few options that remain may suffer a blow from this news breaking today. The USL team would sell less tickets than it’s Major League Soccer counterpart, but there is also an argument that the city would not handle two new soccer clubs well, launching the same year, just a few miles away from each other.
Does this call it quits for the Crew SC to Austin movement, which four months ago seemed all but a pen-and-paper deal?
The league and PSV will undoubtedly continue to lobby and pursue a stadium site, but there have to be questions asked about what impact this will have to the proposed MLS Austin franchise.
Epstein (2/2): "But, there's a widespread feeling that #CrewSC may not be coming to Austin after all." #MLS2ATX— Andrew Erickson (@AEricksonCD) February 26, 2018
With the Columbus Partnership and BrewDog owner James Watt outlining plans to purchase the team and sell it to the community to keep it in Columbus, Precourt’s ears may have just opened a little wider.
A question for our readers:
This news is something I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback on. With so much uncertainty surrounding the teams future, and the shear liquid nature of these negotiations, what do you think this means for the future of the club and the likelihood of a move to Texas?