MLS commissioner Don Garber's 'preference' is for the Crew 'to stay in Columbus'

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The Columbus Crew are one of Major League Soccer’s original teams. Owner Anthony Precourt has said he wants to try to move them to Austin, Texas.

NEW YORK — Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber told the Inquirer and Daily News on Tuesday that he hopes for “a solution” that would allow the Columbus Crew to stay in that city, instead of moving to Austin, Texas as owner Anthony Precourt has threatened.

“No league, certainly no commissioner, wants to move a club,” Garber said in an interview at the league’s headquarters. “I hope that there is a solution in Columbus that would allow that team to be more economically viable, and to have an owner who has a path forward that has a future that’s more optimistic than the one that he [Precourt] is on now.”

Garber has said often over the last few months that he does not see such a path existing right now. But in this interview, he dropped multiple hints about the possibility of one of MLS’ original teams staying in its original home city.

“Anthony Precourt [the Crew’s owner] has said from the very beginning that he is willing to engage in pursuing a parallel path,” Garber said. “One that will have him determine whether or not there is an opportunity in Austin, and one that will hopefully be an alternative to the current situation they are in with Columbus.”

It has seemed at times — many times, frankly — that while the paths may be parallel, Precourt’s preference is to move the team. Not to try to keep it in Columbus, or even to sell it to a new local ownership group with the resources Garber is looking for.

But Garber alluded in his remarks Tuesday to the possibility of a sale.

“That current situation doesn’t have enough corporate support, it doesn’t have the right stadium solution, and it doesn’t have any interest to speak of in the past — though maybe going forward — of any local partners,” Garber said. “So, should they be able to make any progress on any of those three or four points, then I would be sure that Anthony would be very willing to entertain that.”

Garber was then asked if he has a personal preference for an outcome.

“I do,” he answered. “If I had a preference, it would be for the Columbus Crew to stay in Columbus. But I’m not sure that the elements are in place yet for that to happen.”