There's another hurdle to clear for MLS in Austin. The Columbus Crew might stay up in Ohio.
Friday, the owners of the Cleveland Browns announced plans to buy the crew before they move.
While this means the crew may not be coming to Austin, it doesn't mean we won’t get a team. MLS said they are confident a team will be playing here by 2021 at the latest. “This was never about stealing a team from Columbus, our goal in Austin was having a team for our ourselves,” said Ryan riggins. Riggins is with Austin Anthem, a group whose been pushing hard for MLS to come to Austin.
On Friday, the owners of the Cleveland Browns announced plans to buy the major league soccer team and keep them in Ohio. Here’s the statement from Dee and Jimmy Haslam.
"We value and appreciate the benefits a professional sports franchise can bring to a community and are hopeful to be part of the solution to keep the Crew in Columbus. We would invest in a strong infrastructure within the Crew organization so that we can continue our focus and commitment to building a winning Cleveland Browns football team in northeast Ohio. We look forward to seeing how this process evolves."
Riggins who've been active on trying to bring MLS to Austin is staying positive following the announcement. “We want soccer in as many places in this country so we're glad to see them stay,” said Riggins.
Almost one year ago, Columbus Crew owner, Anthony Precourt, announced plans to move the team to Austin pending approval for a new soccer stadium.
The potential move sparked controversy, over the summer Austin city council meetings were packed with people expressing their opinions about bringing MLS here. The official city vote had to be postponed, as council members needed extra time to go over the deal before eventually voting in favor.
While Friday’s announcement means the crew might not make the move after all, it doesn't mean Austin will be left out to dry. MLS stated they are still committed to Precourt's plan to launch a team in Austin. “It looks to be the case of being an expansion team which means a fresh start a new coach new players starting completely from scratch,” said Riggins
Whether it's the crew or a new team, fans like Riggins are staying optimistic about MLS in Austin.
The deal with the Columbus Crew isn't final.
Precourt also made a comment on today's announcement saying his company has already made remarkable progress in Austin. He also expects a team to being playing locally by 2021.