Daily Archives: December 6, 2017

Cleveland’s Infamous Art Could Reframe #SaveTheCrew’s Abstract Landscape

Once again, we’re not done yet.

Cleveland Browns fans recall (with a few four-letter words) their teams’ infamous owner Art Modell who moved the Browns to Baltimore in 1995, then becoming the Baltimore Ravens. Like Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt (DNA test between Modell, Precourt and a snake is still pending), a flashy new stadium was demanded by Mr. Modell in northern Ohio. Without diving deep into “The Move,” the city of Cleveland was devastated and rightly pissed-off at its sleazy owner. So, how do Art Modell and the Cleveland Browns from the mid-’90s connect to Anthony Precourt and Columbus Crew SC in 2017?

Earlier today, State Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) became the latest central Ohio political figure to throw his support behind the first club of MLS. Rep. Duffey requested that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine exercise his legal authority and expertise in the latest public attempt to #SaveTheCrew.

Here we go.

“The basis for the action, he said, is a 1996 law that says no owner of a professional sports team in Ohio that uses tax-supported facilities or gets public financial assistance can move out of town unless the owner gives six months advance notice and gives the city or local individuals who reside in the area the opportunity to purchase the team.”
–Jim Siegel, “Lawmaker wants to use law passed after Browns move to block Crew from leaving,” December 6, 2017, The Columbus Dispatch

The article continued.

“Duffey says Crew SC qualifies as receiving taxpayer-supported facilities because it is paying a below-market rate to lease state land for parking, the stadium sits on land that is tax exempt, and the state in 2009 provided $5 million for parking upgrades at the Ohio Expo Center, where lots just south of the stadium and are used by Crew SC fans.”
–Jim Siegel, “Lawmaker wants to use law passed after Browns move to block Crew from leaving,” December 6, 2017, The Columbus Dispatch 

Will this work? Maybe. There is a degree or two of uncertainty as to whether this kind of injunction would keep the Crew in Columbus but the silver lining may be with the famous misery of Cleveland Browns fans.

Bet you didn’t expect to ever read that sentence, did you?

“The Move” is not local history but famous NFL and sports history. The city’s then successful professional football team, coached at the time by this guy named Bill Belichick, was taken away by its owner more than 20 years ago. That tragic memory lives on and defines that city, the current Browns team and this state’s professional sports identity all while residing alongside St. Louis and other cities that have had their beloved teams ripped away from them by immoral owners. Relocation is worse than any loss on the field. It’s a wound that never heals. And I also can’t name anyone who has said that Art Modell made a sound, morally right decision.

The Cleveland-to-Baltimore move remains an ugly black eye for professional sports.

Ohio has been given a second chance to make things right for one of its iconic professional sports teams but will they take it? Will Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine understand what’s really at stake in this battle to #SaveTheCrew and that this issue extends far beyond Columbus, the beating heart and earned soccer capital of American soccer, to small market clubs everywhere?

Given all the lies, deception, sabotage and manipulation (ie – Crew SC’s “business metrics”) by Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt and his firm Precourt Sports Ventures, Crew SC President of Business Operations Andy Loughnane, and MLS Commissioner Don Garber, there is no gray zone in the situation regarding the Columbus Crew SC and its threatened move to Austin, TX. Zero. There is a good side and a bad side. Plain and simple.

This clear-cut distinction between #SaveTheCrew and Precourt and Co. completely strips away any benefit of the doubt for the latter. Scrutiny and possible punishment for Precourt and Co.’s deceitful and manipulative actions and motives could get its day in court. Still, another proud local community willing to do whatever it takes to keep its sports team through inspiring support and several legitimate offers to buy the team and/or build a new downtown stadium with land and funding options could be left out in the cold again.

Or, would the soccer gods (and a few legal mortals) combine to score a last-second victory to change the sports relocation debate forever?

If so, talk about a stern turn for the ages.

#SaveTheCrew 

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