A Circle with the words Columbus Crew in it and the number 96 with cartoonish man wearing a red suite jacket in front with black hair and devil horns, mustache and goatee

Columbus Crew SC fans can only wonder. What team was Anthony Precourt rooting for when the Portland Timbers upset the Crew at Mapre Stadium for the 2015 Major League Soccer Cup?

In 2016 he traded star striker Kei Kamara to New England. Kamara was a fan favorite even with the fringiest of local Crew fans. Fast forward to the summer of 2017 and the Crew has the worst attendance in the MLS.

Again, something he was rooting for?

Another red flag was flashed in 2013 when Precourt bought the team from the Hunt family, the original owners. Precourt insisted on being the principle owner even though the Hunt family at first tried to offer him minority investment. Precourt then pledged to Columbus he would keep the Crew here.

And now this. Announcing the Crew is moving to Austin just as the team unexpectedly surges into the playoffs following a winning streak. A calculated and deliberate move by a con artist, for sure. Because if the Crew were to have won, or were to win, the MLS Cup this year, and Precourt had not announced the move to Austin, the chances of Columbus taxpayers financing that downtown stadium he wants so bad might have had a fighting chance.

Even with Precourt’s secret maneuvers, which includes the secret Austin clause, along with MLS’s secret complicity to help him move to Austin, die-hard Crew fans are keeping the slightest of hope alive.

“I have no idea whether they’re going to stay,” says Jon Winland, a founding member of the Crew supporter group Hudson Street Hooligans. “If the owner wants to sell the team he’s going to sell the team. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t. We’re going to find out soon.”

Say it ain’t so Anthony, say it ain’t so.

When it comes to attracting job-making corporations and keeping tech-savvy hipsters from leaving for places like Austin and Portland, losing the Crew is not going to help matters.

But that doesn’t mean we publicly finance a downtown soccer specific stadium so to appease Precourt, a trust-fund baby who was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple. A trust-funder whose daddy served on the board of Halliburton and made his fortune as an energy transporter and trader, which means he helped buy gas, electric and other fuels low, and sold it back to the consumer high.

A trust-funder who more-than-likely has enough money to build his precious downtown soccer specific stadium on his own.

Progressive activist and Columbus City Council candidate Joe Motil has pushed back against the “no new arena, no team” threat before. Twenty years ago, after civic leaders (the rich and powerful) told the NHL they would not privately pay for an arena for the Blue Jackets, Motil helped convince Columbus voters to defeat a referendum that would have built a publicly financed arena.

“The whole city got together and said ‘Hell No.’ It was one of the best grassroots defeats of the rich and powerful in the city probably ever,” says Motil, a write-in-candidate on November 7th, and a Crew fan himself. “If this were to happen again, it would be defeated once again. We shouldn’t be using our tax dollars to the benefit a private business, period.”

Motil’s argument is based on some simple logic. The fat-cats who say they need an arena for their team to stay put have the money to build it themselves.

“Think about Nationwide Arena. Four weeks after the referendum was defeated Nationwide threw in 90 percent of the money and the Dispatch threw in 10 percent to build it,” he says. “Four weeks after. And the civic leaders always said during that campaign there was not a plan B. Basically they said, ‘If this gets defeated it’s never going to be built.’ They told everybody there was no plan B.”

The net worth of Anthony Precourt or his daddy’s are listed on financial web sites as “unavailable.” The daddy is rumored to be a billionaire and has been in a giving mood since retirement. According to Stanford University, where Anthony and daddy are alumni, the Precourt family gave a reported $50 million to Stanford in 2009 to help fund an energy research institute.

The bottom line is this. Anthony could easily hit up daddy for the estimated $100 million it would cost to build a soccer specific stadium near downtown Columbus. If his heart was truly here, if he truly cared about Nordecke, the Hudson Street Hooligans and thousands of others in black and gold would have been marching downtown by now.  


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