Crew Membership Advisory Board Member Resigns Over Relocation News
Columbus Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt wants a new stadium, or he’s moving the team to Austin. The news was first reported by Sports Illustrated last night and caused a stir in the community, with local leaders expressing their own disappointment earlier today. Below is an open letter of resignation in response to Precourt’s demands from Membership Advisory Board Member, Stefanie Olejniczak.
Dear Mr. Precourt,
I was absolutely ecstatic to be one of the 14 die-hard Crew fans selected for the club’s first Membership Advisory Board. To be able to give back in some way to the franchise that has brought me so much excitement, passion, and community over the last five years was an opportunity and honor that I have never taken lightly.
So, it is with a marked sense of disappointment and a truly heavy heart, that I must resign my position on the Membership Advisory Board, effective immediately.
The Crew is part of Columbus, part of the city that I have chosen as my home. I take the slogan “Club and City, Together As One” incredibly seriously. I can’t imagine approaching my love of the Crew in any other way. This city is committed to Columbus Crew SC, which is more than any of the fans here in Ohio can say about you, Mr. Precourt. We are at every game, chanting and cheering. We have made new friends, deepened previous relationships, and learned more about our neighbors and our city through the Crew. We are committed to our Club in a way that, over the past few years, and especially over the past few hours, you have shown you will never be.
Columbus Crew SC has hit key goals in the last few years. With high-profile sponsors like Mapfre, Barbasol, and now Acura joining the Crew family, the team’s financial health can’t be as bad as you claim. You have a cadre of fans who live and breathe black and gold, extending beyond the Nordecke in a way that is clear from both within and outside the stadium. Merchandise sales are up, ticket sales are up – why tell the fans that our city’s club is crumbling?
Unless that was the plan all along. While you may have purchased the team at a higher-than-market rate at the time, that still cost less than an expansion franchise. You duped us into thinking the surveys we took to support a new stadium were for Columbus – they weren’t. You were collecting data to support a move. Despite calling us the Packers of the MLS, telling us you were tired of concerns you’d move the team (all while increasing your revenues), you had no intention of keeping this club in the city that loves it. Local businesspeople made you viable offers to purchase the team – you rejected them. Your purchase contract specifically has an out for Austin; your statement to fans mentions Austin seven times. You always planned to move the Crew to Austin. Shame on you for lying so openly to the fans who have supported you and Columbus Crew SC for so many years.
I cannot in good conscience continue to serve on an advisory board of an organization that has acted so duplicitously, and that is actively working to harm the city I have come to love. I love the Crew, I want nothing but Glory to Columbus, and that is why I can no longer be part of the Member Advisory Board.