Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber has consistently tried to have a positive tone when talking about the situation that the league finds itself in Columbus. On Monday night in Atlanta, he gave the strongest indication on the future of MLS soccer in Ohio’s capital city, commenting that the league is engaged in ongoing efforts to find a solution to stay in the city even if efforts to move Columbus Crew SC to Austin are successful.
In a story from ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle, Garber, speaking at festivities for the upcoming MLS All-Star Game, said that the league has been meeting with city leadership on “a resolution that’s going to be good for the city, good for ownership, good for the Crew and good for the fans.”
Deputy Commissioner Mark Abbott has made several visits to the city in recent months, including one earlier in July. The meetings have included visits to possible stadium sites and meetings regarding prospective local ownership groupds sources familiar with the meetings tell Massive Report.
The conversations come at a pivotal time in Precourt Sports Ventures attempts to move the team to Austin. The lease terms sheet for the McKalla Place site was released on Friday and the Austin City Council will have public discussion session on Wednesday about the proposal before a possible vote on Aug. 9th. Approval would clear the way for development of a stadium in Austin for an MLS team, a green light for PSV to move the team.
Meanwhile, the lawsuit by the State of Ohio and the City of Columbus is ongoing, with the suit currently tolled during court mandated negotiations to try to resolve the dispute before going to trial. The case would likely accelerate if PSV commits to moving to Austin by signing a deal.
Off the field, the fan led Save The Crew effort announced 10,000 Season Ticket commitments to a future owner of the Columbus Crew. It’s a strong show of fan support for a team that has been actively trying to turn it’s back on the city.
These conversations between MLS and Columbus leadership serve several purposes. It keeps open the possibility of staying in town given the recent show of support by the community for the team. It also presents the image of good faith negotiations between the league in the city, which is valuable as it fights the “Modell Lawsuit.” Lastly, it could be seen as keeping some pressure on Austin by showing there’s other options for the team.
Ultimately, the true meaning of Garber’s words will be in the results. They won’t mean much if the Black & Gold aren’t playing for many summers to come.