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Ginther Leaves Meeting With Crew Owner 'Disappointed And Frustrated'

Columbus Crew players celebrate a goal.
Jay LaPrete
Associated Press

Going into a meeting with Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt and Major League Soccer officials, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said city officials were "resolved to do our part" to keep the soccer club from moving to Austin, Texas.

They left that meeting not nearly as optimistic.

A written statement from Ginther and Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer said the Wednesday meeting left them "disappointed and frustrated." 

The meeting was scheduled three weeks ago, one week after Precourt said he planned to move the team to Austin in 2019 barring the construction of a new stadium in downtown Columbus.

“We met with Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and Columbus Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt in New York today,” the statement says. “It is clear the MLS and ownership did not come to the meeting willing to commit to staying in Columbus. We know this is heartbreaking for the dedicated fans in Columbus and across the country who have shown unwavering support for the Columbus Crew SC.”

Ginther and Fischer have been at odds with Precourt since the October 17 announcement of a potential move. Fischer has said local business leaders put together at least two offers to maintain local ownership. Meanwhile, Precourt says he hasn’t received any serious local investment offers.

Precourt says the team is not economically viable in its current home of MAPFRE Stadium. The stadium is only 18 years, but it was built cheaply by modern standards and lacks lucrative club seating and corporate sponsorships.

Ginther’s Wednesday statement also took aim at Austin city leaders, saying, "great American cities do not get into bidding wars over sports teams to benefit private owners.”

Last week, the Austin City Council unanimously approved a resolution to analyze what pieces of city-owned land could be the site for a soccer stadium.

The back-and-forth over the future home of the Crew comes amid the soccer club's latest playoff run. The Crew upset Atlanta in the knockout round of the MLS playoffs, then beat New York City FC in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Eastern Conference finals, which start November 21, pit the Crew against the heavily-favored Toronto FC. The winner of the two-game series advances to MLS Cup on December 9.