Haslam family agree deal to take control of Columbus Crew
A consortium including the Haslam family and the Columbus-based Edwards family has reached an agreement to take control of Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Columbus Crew.
The group, which includes Jimmy Haslam, owner of the National Football League’s (NFL) Cleveland Browns, had been in negotiations with MLS to purchase the team since October. The franchise’s future in both Columbus and Ohio had been in some doubt.
In 2017, current Crew owner Anthony Precourt set out his intentions to move the franchise to Austin, with the consortium – the Columbus Partnership – then being formed in order to fight the relocation.
Precourt Sports Ventures held Crew SC's operating rights after acquiring them in July 2013 from the Hunt family, who launched the club in 1996.
MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement on behalf of the league: ‘After several months of discussions, we are extremely pleased to have reached an agreement in principle with the Haslam and Edwards families for them to assume an ownership position in Major League Soccer and operate Columbus Crew SC starting in January 2019.
‘While we work to finalise the deal promptly, we want to state publicly the tremendous collaboration and community support for Crew SC, which has set the stage for a powerful plan that includes a world-class soccer stadium – a critical step that will help ensure the club’s success on and off the field.’
The announcement comes just weeks after it was revealed that state and city officials had approved plans for a new US$230 million, 20,000-seater stadium in Ohio.
In a separate joint statement, Dee Haslam, Jimmy Haslam and Pete Edwards explained: ‘When we began exploring the possibility of keeping Crew SC in Columbus, the process started with an appreciation for the benefits a professional sports franchise brings to a region.
‘We quickly began positive discussions with Major League Soccer - the league office and many of the league’s owners.
“We are extremely grateful for the efforts of the Columbus community, as well as Crew SC fans, to help us efficiently complete and fulfil the requirements and deadlines set by Major League Soccer that will help ensure the success of Crew SC on and off the field.’
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