Ann Kitchen 1, Precourt Sports Ventures Nil

Updating the score in the quest for the Columbus Crew

Dashed hopes of a soccer stadium in Butler Shores

Austin's soccer saga is officially a mess. Last Friday, one week after reiterating their shunning of the offer to move their Columbus Crew into a new stadium out by the Travis County Expo Center, Anthony Precourt and company also announced that Precourt Sports Ventures (which owns the Crew) no longer seek to site their privately funded 20,000-person, $200 million stadium in Butler Shores – the ownership group's first choice for a stadium outside of (and perhaps including) a new one in their native Columbus.

Chances are, PSV's decision to discontinue its pursuit of the Butler site was the result of a proposed resolution posted by Council Member Ann Kitchen (co-sponsored by Alison Alter, Jimmy Flannigan, and Leslie Pool) to bar any city-owned parkland from being used for private ventures. Though the organization made a feeble attempt to challenge the four CMs – sending a message to local allegiants through their "grassroots" advocacy arm MLS2ATX alleging that "our city leaders are backing down as a result of pressure from a vocal minority, some of whom are from Columbus, Ohio, and who have the obvious motive of killing this move to Austin" – the group ultimately relented. In a statement, PSV President Dave Greeley cited "valid concerns about a possible stadium location at that site."

Kitchen ultimately pulled the resolution; perhaps a good thing, since both Ora Houston and Pio Renteria seemed ready to raise a stink at the Feb. 15 Council meeting about District 5 politics creeping in on their Eastside regions, where Houston continues to advocate for a stadium at the Expo Center and Renteria wants PSV to reconsider investing in Roy Guerrero Park – even if it's looking more and more like the only local solution for PSV may be to situate the team at McKalla Place, a city-owned property that's not parkland up by the Domain.

Yet that same day, Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fis­cher told the Columbus Dispatch that Precourt had reopened conversations with investors in Ohio about keeping the Crew in Columbus, a bold move after he effectively alienated that entire city's fan base. "It kind of looks like [PSV] were going for broke and being pretty tone deaf leading up to [Friday]," Fischer elaborated to the Statesman in a subsequent interview. "Now to abruptly change kind of mirrors the experience that we've had with them in Colum­bus." Precourt is reportedly looking at a 40-acre plot of land in the city's Arena District.

This is all going down roughly one month before the Major League Soccer season starts (kickoff March 3). The Crew isn't at home until March 10 vs. the Montreal Impact, meaning Precourt has 36 days to clean up his hometown image.

This story has been updated to attribute a quote from Alex Fischer to the Austin American-Statesman, and not the Columbus Dispatch.

Got something to say on the subject? Send a letter to the editor.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Columbus Crew
MLS in Austin: Someday, Someway
MLS in Austin: Someday, Someway
It won’t be the Crew, but there will be an Austin FC, league suggests

Austin Sanders, Oct. 19, 2018

Soccer Volleys: Court Orders and Community Forums
Soccer Volleys: Court Orders and Community Forums
Conversation could heat up in June

Austin Sanders, May 11, 2018

More by Chase Hoffberger
The Reporting Life
The Reporting Life
Oh, the places you'll go

Sept. 3, 2021

Revisiting the Railroad Killer
Revisiting the Railroad Killer
Local journo Alex Hannaford’s Dead Man Talking podcast investigates the case against a man on death row

Nov. 16, 2018


Columbus Crew, Ann Kitchen, Anthony Precourt, Ora Houston, Pio Renteria

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle