COLUMBUS, Ohio – The soccer city that gave us dos a cero might be MLS history in a few years.

Precourt Sports Ventures, LLC, owner of Columbus Crew SC, announced Tuesday that it is exploring strategic options to ensure the long-term viability of the club, including remaining in Columbus at a new stadium or potentially relocating the team to Austin, Texas.

Columbus Crew SC was the first charter granted in Major League Soccer in 1996. The team has recognized its growing disparity in attendance and corporate support compared to its MLS peers and other midsize markets, such as Kansas City, Orlando, Portland and Salt Lake City.

If many things fall into place, the Crew could move to Austin in 2019, according to’s Grant Wahl, who originally reported the story.

“Despite our investments and efforts, the current course is not sustainable,” Anthony Precourt, chief executive officer of Precourt Sports Ventures and chairman of Columbus Crew SC, said in a statement. “This club has ambition to be a standard bearer in MLS, therefore we have no choice but to expand and explore all of our options. This includes a possible move to Austin, which is the largest metropolitan area in North America without a major league sports franchise. Soccer is the world’s game, and with Austin’s growing presence as an international city, combined with its strong multicultural foundation, MLS in Austin could be an ideal fit.”

The team has called MAPFRE Stadium home since 1999. It was the first soccer-specific stadium in MLS. The stadium has been the site of several vital World Cup qualifying wins by the United States over Mexico. The Americans won by scores of 2-0 in 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013 over their North American rivals before losing there in 2016, 2-1.

“As attendance League-wide continues to grow on a record-setting pace, and markets across the country seek to join MLS, Columbus’ situation is particularly concerning,” MLS commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “Despite PSV’s significant investments and improvements on and off the field, Columbus Crew SC is near the bottom of the League in all business metrics and the club’s stadium is no longer competitive with other venues across MLS. The league is very reluctant to allow teams to relocate, but based on these factors, we support PSV’s efforts to explore options outside of Columbus, including Austin, provided they find a suitable stadium location.”

PSV, which has owned the team since 2013, has been in communication with city and community leaders in Columbus regarding its concerns since early 2016.

In September, PSV joined a forum of Columbus leaders to outline the club’s challenges and to discuss the organization’s intent to explore strategic options for the future.

In evaluating Austin, as with any new MLS market, a critical component is the stadium plan. Without an MLS-approved site, Precourt said the Austin move would not be viable.

Studies and league data show that MLS clubs are most relevant and successful when playing at a downtown stadium location or at a site that is a destination for the entire community.

“The stadium site itself is of paramount importance and we recognize that private funding will be key in any stadium solution,” Precourt said in a press release.

Front Row Soccer editor Michael Lewis has covered 13 World Cups (eight men, five women), seven Olympics and 25 MLS Cups. He has written about New York City FC, New York Cosmos, the New York Red Bulls and both U.S. national teams for Newsday and has penned a soccer history column for the Lewis, who has been honored by the Press Club of Long Island and National Soccer Coaches Association of America, is the former editor of He has written seven books about the beautiful game and has published ALIVE AND KICKING The incredible but true story of the Rochester Lancers. It is available at