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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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The Crew Had One Goal for Tonight

All they needed was one, just one goal.

Columbus Crew SC fell 1-nil to Toronto FC in Canada tonight in the second (and decisive) leg of the 2017 MLS Eastern Conference Final, thereby preventing the black & gold from hosting an MLS Cup for the ages. Admittedly, as a Crew fan from the beginning, it’s difficult to find the words in this trying moment. The chances were there for that critical one away goal, but Justin Meram and Ola Kamara couldn’t place the ball in the back of the net.

That one goal was right there…

By the way, huge props to the next USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen for another fantastic penalty kick save in the 26th minute.

And in predictable snake-like behavior, MLS Commissioner Don Garber claimed he was “stuck in traffic” so he didn’t have to answer questions live on FS1 regarding his active participation in the deception, sabotage and attempted removal of the Crew from Columbus. Without diving deep tonight into the ongoing shameful acts by Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt, Crew SC President of Business Operations Andy Loughnane, Precourt Sports Ventures President Dave Greeley and MLS Commissioner Don Garber, I have just one thing to say right now:

The #SaveTheCrew movement is not over and will continue far beyond this MLS post-season. The efforts behind the rallying cry “We’re not done yet” will not yield because if Columbus ceases to be home to a professional soccer club, then so goes the identity and beating heart of American soccer in its capital city.

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The Crew Wars is about to add its next episode on the pitch…

Columbus Crew SC will battle Supporters’ Shield winner and MLS heavyweight Toronto FC tomorrow night in Canada in the second leg of the 2017 MLS Eastern Conference Final at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1. And the stakes for this match aren’t just for a spot in MLS Cup but the opportunity to host MLS Cup. This massive game awaits the Crew and its vocal #SaveTheCrew movement (The Resistance) in the stands and here in Columbus whereby a victory could be the best-televised PR moment for Columbus this season, as well as simultaneously being the worst televised PR moment for the Empire (snakes Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt, Crew SC President of Business Operations Andy Loughnane, Precourt Sports Ventures President Dave Greeley and MLS Commissioner Don Garber).

More #SaveTheCrew analysis will come this week as details confirming that Empire representatives Mr. Precourt and Mr. Garber told Resistance forces Columbus Mayor Ginther and Columbus Partnership President & CEO Alex Fischer that they could pay the $5 million fee to apply for an expansion team in the future (FOR THE TEAM THAT’S ALREADY HERE!) during their closed-door New York meeting. Plus, there have been back-and-forth reports involving land being offered for a proposed Crew stadium in downtown Columbus in recent days.

For today, however, before this soccer storm returns to our television screens via the pivotal second leg of the Eastern Conference Final, this blog post is being written with my nieces and nephews in mind.

Paddington, the live-action film with a CGI bear that was a box office hit with rave reviews from 2014 has received the sequel treatment. Accordingly, this fun, heartwarming story that’s been beautifully produced for the silver screen released its first full U.S. trailer via Warner Bros. Pictures earlier today.

If you can’t bear to wait, no worries, as you can enjoy the rambunctious Paddington 2 starting January 12, 2018.

The Chill of Nil-Nil

Columbus Crew SC 0 – Toronto FC 0

Not the best case scenario, but also not the worst.

Just getting back home from the nil-nil draw between the best damn fans in MLS land, more reflection, and analysis on tonight’s tense game will follow tomorrow. One thing’s for sure at this moment, which is that the city of Columbus continues to solidify its rightful place as THE soccer capital of the United States of America. The fans who rocked the sold-out Crew stadium on this chilly November night were passionate, excited and inspiring. The history of the Crew in MLS (and USMNT’s Dos-a-Cero) is unmatched.

Once again, the very identity of American soccer, let alone MLS, is at stake with keeping the Crew and professional soccer in Columbus. And fans let everyone in Crew Stadium hear it with more chants for Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt, as well as sporting a special banner before kickoff that will be featured in tomorrow’s blog post.

Until next Wednesday’s second leg of the Eastern Conference Final in Toronto, let’s all memorize and sing the newest Crew chant inspired by the timeless classic (and very appropriate) Les Misérables.

“We’re not done!”

Damn straight.

#SaveTheCrew