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#SaveTheCrew Movement Rallies City Partners to Keep Crew in Columbus

Lauren Sega Lauren Sega #SaveTheCrew Movement Rallies City Partners to Keep Crew in ColumbusPhoto by Matt Ellis.
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When Columbus Crew SC owner Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV) announced that without a new stadium, the team would be relocating to Austin, Crew fans began assembling. Thousands have gathered in support for a movement dubbed #SaveTheCrew, aimed at using local political and corporate leverage to keep the Crew from leaving.

“Tuesday was just a day of grieving, and people were going through the process and lashing out and doing all the five steps or whatever,” said Morgan Hughes, #SaveTheCrew organizer, “and by Tuesday night, I had done that and just decided that I was done being a victim of circumstance. It was time to rally everyone together and start fighting back.”

They began with a demonstration outside of Columbus City Council on the following Sunday night, October 22. Roughly 4,000 Crew fans turned out, 2,000 in person and another 2,000 via Facebook Livestream. At the council meeting the next day, Hughes and others spoke to council members about the importance of the Crew and the implications of allowing the team to be relocated.

“It sets a dangerous precedent going forward within Major League Soccer and the sports landscape in general,” Hughes said. “Keeping in mind that the Columbus Crew is not destitute — we’re not losing money. It’s just an owner has identified, maybe, a city he thinks is sexier, so even though we’re a viable business, at the drop of a hat somebody can go ‘I like Los Angeles, I like Nashville…let’s pick up and go.’”

As a movement, #SaveTheCrew seems to have had its share of sway. They’ve managed to get several dozen regional and national corporate partners, including AEP Ohio, OhioHealth, Columbia Gas, Kroger and Pepsi. Columbus City Council agreed to arrange a sit-down meeting with representatives from Major League Soccer (MLS) and passed a resolution of support for #SaveTheCrew at Monday’s council meeting. And, outside of council, #SaveTheCrew has sought support from other political figures, including the city’s various area commissions.

PSV will need the support of MLS to move the Crew to Austin.

After PSV’s announcement, the League issued a statement in what seemed like full support of the relocation, with MLS Commissioner Don Garber saying, “Despite PSV’s significant investments and improvements on and off the field, Columbus Crew SC is near the bottom of the League in all business metrics and the Club’s stadium is no longer competitive with other venues across MLS. The League is very reluctant to allow teams to relocate, but based on these factors, we support PSV’s efforts to explore options outside of Columbus, including Austin, provided they find a suitable stadium location.”

This decision may be overturned after the city’s meeting with MLS, and as Hughes and his fellow supporters have caught the attention of soccer fans nationwide. Donny Murray, another #SaveTheCrew organizer, said they’ve received letters of support from other teams’ supporters. Fans from Seattle and even Atlanta, who they played last week, have shown their allegiance with the movement, with Atlanta fans marching with the Crew banner and donning Crew armbands in support during the game.

“They support our movement,” Murray said. “They support keeping the Crew in Columbus, and I think that’s pretty powerful.”

As #SaveTheCrew waits for the meeting between city officials and MLS, Hughes said the plan is to keep on keeping on, building their community partner base, “getting it out to as many people as we can so we can hopefully have that influence.”

For more information, visit savethecrew.com

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