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Judge Grants City More Time To Possibly Purchase Columbus Crew

Jay LaPrete
Associated Press

The city of Columbus won a small victory in its lawsuit against the Columbus Crew this week. A Franklin County judge granted their request for a 90-day pause, allowing the city more time to potentially buy the Major League Soccer team.

Jeffrey Brown issued the order on Tuesday, temporarily freezing the six-month period when local investors must be given a chance to purchase the franchise. Both City Attorney Zach Klein and Mayor Andrew Ginther applauded the move, calling the move “encouraging in our efforts to #SaveTheCrew.”

In March, Columbus and the Ohio Attorney General sued Precourt Sports Ventures, the owner of Precourt Sports Ventures, over its possible move to Austin, Texas.

Their lawsuit cites “Modell Law,” which was enacted in 1996 after the original Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996. Under the law, Ohio sports teams using publicly supported facilities must give six months' notice and allow cities or residents a chance to buy the team.

Owner Anthony Precourt argues that the six-month window began when he announced his intention to move in October 2017, barring the construction of a new downtown stadium, but the city argued Precourt was vague about his notice.

The city asked the court to pause the clock while they resolve their legal battle. Ginther has said that the city has not received “full engagement from the team’s ownership” about keeping the Crew in town. Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer has been working in the meantime to coordinate potential purchasers and identify stadium locations.

Brown will now meet with both parties to determine how to structure a potential sale. Both sides also must help determine the team's value.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Gabe Rosenberg joined WOSU in October 2016. As digital news editor, Gabe reports breaking news and edits all content for the WOSU website, as well as manages the station's social media accounts.