Talking Soccer: ‘Save The Crew’

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Columbus Crew forward Pedro Santos, left, kicks the ball away from Columbus Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen (23) in the second half of an MLS soccer game in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, March 31, 2018. (Brooke LaValley/The Columbus Dispatch via AP)

This weekend I was lucky enough to be in Columbus, Ohio, for the showdown that was the women’s basketball final four. Things didn’t go so well for UConn on Friday night but I did get to see another Husky in action on Saturday.

Former UConn soccer captain Jake Nerwinski, who plays for the Vancouver Whitecaps was on the field—and played the 90 minutes in their win against the Columbus Crew.

The Crew is one of the original Major League Soccer (MSL) franchise, born out of the 1994 World Cup hosted by the United States.

Columbus was also the first team to build a major-league stadium dedicated to soccer, and they won the MLS Cup in 2008.

It’s fair to say Columbus Crew is a soccer team with history and importance in America.

The MLS might be the newest sports league in America, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suffer from the same problems.

Last season, Anthony Precourt, the CEO of Precourt Sports Venture, the major investor of the team gave the city an ultimatum: Give him money for a new stadium or he will relocate the team to Austin, Texas.

This, of course, wasn’t well received by the loyal fans of the Crew, who now have a campaign called “Save The Crew.”

The chant of “Save The Crew” erupted throughout Saturday’s game.

As a foreigner, the concept of teams leaving the cities is something I’ve only seen in American sports. I don’t like it, and it’s a dirty tactic by owners who seek to twist the hand of the taxpayers and city officials.

I could never see Real Madrid leaving Madrid, or Borussia Dortmund leaving Dortmund. It’s unthinkable!

These teams are part of the fabrics of their cities, their fans identities and their region’s culture.

Precourt also refuses to sell the Crew to local bidders, and the MLS would have to approve of the sale of the team, since they own all the teams in the league.

The city is trying to stop the sale by suing Precourt.

Sports Illustrated  reported that Ohio has a Revised Code 9.67, “the Art Modell law”, which tells owners of sports teams who use tax-supported facilities for most of their home games and receive “financial assistance,” like the Crew, that they cannot stop playing games there and start elsewhere unless 1) the government consents or 2) the team provides six months-notice of intent to relocate and, during that time, the team offers local business and community leaders a chance to buy the team.

There’s a lot of legal terms that aren’t clearly defined, such as what accounts as tax-supported facilities.

While this might bring hope for crew fans, the ultimate decision is in the hands of a judge.

And in past examples, the judges have just awarded monetary damages to the city.

In the case of the Jazz leaving Louisiana, the judge cited that a team relocating fell under “interstate commerce, Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S Constitution.” The federal government regulates commerce between states, as explained by the Sports Illustrated report.

I hope the Crew is saved.

On Saturday’s game, there were loyal supporters who sang throughout the game and families with young kids enjoying their city’s team. These kids will be the future fans of soccer in America and the MLS.

The Crew has history and passionate fans, and their relocation would leave a hole in the city, hurting the MLS’ chances of growing.


Daniela Marulanda is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at daniela.marulanda@uconn.edu.

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