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Columbus Crew Lawsuit Can Move Forward, Court Rules

Jay LaPrete
Associated Press

The 10th District Court of Appeals on Thursday rejected an attempt to dismiss the state’s lawsuit against Columbus Crew owners.

Precourt Sports Ventures filed an appeal of a judge’s decision last month that granted a 90-day pause in the case so Columbus could attempt to buy the franchise.

Owner Anthony Precourt argued the pause prevented them from relocating to Austin, Texas, and that Judge Jeffrey Brown overstepped his authority by establishing meetings and deadlines for both parties to coordinate a possible purchase.

But Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, in the state’s response, said the merits of the case had yet to be decided – so it was too early for Columbus Crew to appeal.

In Thursday’s decision, the 10th District Court agreed with the state: “The trial court has yet to render a final appealable order in this case and we must dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.”

DeWine and Columbus Attorney Zach Klein both applauded the move, saying they hope Precourt will now participate in conversations over purchasing the team.

“This has been a minor detour and now we can get back to the business of seeing whether we can Save The Crew and keep the team in Columbus,” said Klein in a statement.

Ohio and Columbus sued Precourt Sports Ventures and Major League Soccer in March over the team’s potential move. Under the 1996 “Modell Law,” the state argues that Ohio sports teams using publicly supported facilities must give six-months’ notice and allow cities or residents a chance to buy the team.

While the #SaveTheCrew movement has been attempting to rally fan and business support to keep the team at home, Precourt unveiled plans for a stadium in Austin. Precourt proposed paying for the construction of a 20,000-seat stadium, and has been lobbying Austin City Council to approve the purchase.

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.