Note: This article will be periodically updated.
If you’ve been sent this link, it may have been a polite way to respond that we’ve already addressed your question/claim/concern or that you’re perhaps going down a path without a constructive outcome. We encourage our members to link to it as well, to help better inform others.
We’re now a bit over a month since the big announcement that Columbus Crew SC may relocate to Austin, Texas as soon as 2019. Since then, there’s been an explosion of interest, discussion, and opinions on all sides of the issue. We’re always trying to find better ways to engage in a constructive information exchange and are open to helpful suggestions.
In this article and FAQ, we want to clearly articulate what we believe as a collective of supporters who ultimately want to see MLS in Austin — it is after all, right in the name of our Supporters Group — for now.
Our Relationship Status with Potential Relocation: It’s Complicated
First and foremost, we empathize with the majority of Save the Crew supporters. We get the history and emotion and what it means for the soccer landscape. This is genuine and we’ll continue to message it.
If for some reason the Crew stay as an MLS team in Columbus, we fully support it. We support the fundamental goals of the Save the Crew campaign and their Mission Statement.
If the MLS franchise does leave — which we believe is inevitable — we would hope that another team (likely USL) would be stood-up as the “Columbus Crew” as part of the deal — in Columbus, at MAPFRE Stadium. We hope that the incarnation of “The Crew” beyond 2019, keeps the history, the trophies, star — all of it. We’re on board and this is in line with the Save the Crew goal: “…ideally as part of MLS”. We will also be happy to advocate with PSV and MLS to make that happen as Austin’s MLS supporter constituency.
However, we also come at the current situation from a different perspective: While we don’t like the idea of teams moving, MLS is at a point where it’s going to probably occur more in the next 20 years than it did in the first 20. If Commissioner Garber is stopping at 28 teams under his watch, moving existing clubs will be the only “big lever” to address what they consider underperforming investor-operators markets (given the league’s single-entity structure). Hopefully, this is only pulled after exhausting all other options, but it will happen. Atlanta drawing up to 70k in attendance and being an oversized share of merchandise sales puts enormous pressure on owners at the opposite end of the spectrum — some of whom will reach the upper thresholds of growth in their markets. There’s a difference between liking it and accepting the reality of it. This seems to be what pro/rel looks like in America: Dictated not by a club’s position on the table, but by “business metrics.”
In addition, the bad blood between the ownership group and fans does not seem salvageable, it’s unlikely PSV will sell the team in the near-term, PSV seems pretty set on moving, and MLS seems to be supporting all of this at some level behind the scenes for the situation to have even evolved to this place. We don’t know who knew what ahead of time, but the announcement wasn’t a rogue action by an investor-operator without the league’s consent.
If the MLS franchise currently in Columbus, Ohio is going to move, we want it to come to Austin, Texas. Full stop. Austin is not “stealing” anything; an owner is moving his club and it’s not Austin’s doing, nor our fault. You may not like it personally — it’s certainly not our preferred way to get a team — but we’re not going to turn it away. Ultimately, a chain of events we do not control, put the rights to the Central Texas franchise into the hands of a guy from Northern California who, it seems, wants to bring his Columbus, Ohio-originated club here — with the approvals of people in New York and many other ownership groups across the country.
To us, a historic MLS club would unfortunately be going dark in Ohio and a brand-new MLS club would be created in Texas.
Austin will build its own history.
We’re not anti-Columbus, we’re pro-Austin.
Our Positions on Frequent Topics
There’s a small, but reoccuring number of people creating discussion around some common themes and topics. In an effort to better address them, we’ve put together this list of reponses.
“Why No Austin Expansion Bid”
Cities don’t submit expansion bids, ownership groups do with a goal to place that team in a certain market. Anyone posting variations of “Austin didn’t even submit a bid” probably doesn’t really understand how the process works. It’s been an open secret for a number of years that Austin was of interest to the league. People with billions of dollars to spend on sports franchises tend to do their homework, get good information, and generally would probably become aware that Austin was spoken for. This is speculative of course.
“But What About San Antonio”
In our opinion, San Antonio was never going to get an MLS team. Even with Austin out of the equation, the only real positive thing toward a successful bid they had going for it was the ownership group, who in the end, did little publicly to lobby and hype an expansion team bid. It may be “just how SSE operates,” but it’s probably not the way to win over MLS. Hopefully the full behind the scenes story will be told someday, but some of the items going against it out of the gate:
- Bad stadium location for MLS’ preferences
- Facility may not even be expandable to the new 20k+ baseline of newer stadiums (The Scorpions plans were under 19k, uncertain of SAFC’s.)
- Nothing even vaguely resembling an “urban core” nearby
- San Antonio doesn’t line up with the corporate and demographic data points that MLS likes
- For how well run SSE is, MLS does seem to have a preference from a more individual investor-operator partner these days. Big corporate entity owners seem to be less engaged in the single-entity system (Consider NYCFC ‘s ownership vs the Timbers’)
- Rumors of bad blood at MLS back from when San Antonio had a franchise all but won years ago, then turned it down.
Will some SA fans never accept an Austin MLS team? Sure. However, considering we’re already seeing positive engagement and membership sign-ups coming from the San Antonio area, we’re confident that enough people will make the trips from Bexar County and points north. Besides, someone needs to stay back and support the excellent USL team down there. That’s not sarcasm either – stronger teams in Texas are a positive.
“MLS in Austin is a front for PSV. It was established the same year as he bought the team” — And Other Such Conspiracy Theories
There’s almost 4 years of tweets, Facebook posts, and other quantitative evidence to the contrary, and many in the local Austin community have been involved in the effort for years. It’s also very hard to make an argument that a fake SG was masterminded without detection for 4 years with members infiltrating many other Austin supporters groups.
You hear how this sounds, right? Yet, somehow, this is a thing for a tiny group people struggling with all of this.
Nobody in the SG leadership — and as far as we know — none of our members are employed or paid, past or present, by PSV, MLS, or any related entity or affiliate. We are run and funded completely independent of any other organization.
Do we talk to the local MLS2ATX team? Of course! We’re Austin’s MLS supporters group, they’re the representatives of Austin’s future MLS ownership group. Having healthy supporter/owner relationships from the beginning will help foster healthy communication, understanding, and collaboration for years to come.
“But, Your Colors!?”
Our color pallette has contained blacks, whites, and greys for quite some time. When we got a heads-up on the announcement, we added a matching green accent — because we asked about the colors PSV was going to use. It was a quick add. We had already gotten feedback that our new logo needed a “color pop” from those smarter in branding than us, so it all worked out. If our Austin MLS ownership group was leveraging a color, we incorporated it a bit as well — in support of having a team here. We also rushed to finish the new logo and site which was over a month behind schedule. Now that the an official MLS-represented group had landed in town, we didn’t want to create additional brand confusion considering our old logo contained the official MLS badging.
Besides, it’s all temporary. We’ll be rebranding with an Austin-specific SG name, logo, and colors before our team takes the pitch in 2019.
“MLS in Austin Knew Back in February About the Relocation. Conspiracy!”
The article literally spells out how the topic came up and the logic we used to come to the conclusions. A few people have also become way too fixated on the “we also have heard some things” line in the article. This was supporting information, not anything that generated our conclusions. We will say that no one from MLS or PSV is a source in that piece. Also, none of us are bloggers or journalists: We’re supporters.
We were a bit shocked at how accurate it turned out to be, and quite surprised that no one in Ohio had seen it coming and came to similar conclusions.
The Local AO Chapter Supports the Move — Doesn’t It?
No. The local American Outlaws chapter has no position on this. When the news dropped, the President of the Austin AO chapter was also part of the MLS in Austin leadership team. Some media outlets mis-reported his position as being with AO in articles, creating confusion that the chapter was endorsing the relocation. To remove confusion going forward, that person stepped back from AO leadership while this all plays out. AO’s focus is on the U.S. National teams and their policy is not to take a position in local club issues.
Numerous Concerned Ohioans with cautionary tales of the PSV Ownership Group and/or Their Sudden Concern for our Long-Term, Civic Well-Being
We’re very well-aware of the claims being leveraged against the PSV ownership group and very observant of the activities of all the stakeholders involved: fans, owners, the league, local government, and businesses. We’re also very good at drawing out our own conclusions — sometimes pretty accurately, as noted above.
We also don’t need Austin civic lessons from people who don’t live here. We’re aware of our parkland and how it should or shouldn’t be used, our demographics, our growth, our cost-of-living, traffic, taco superiority, etc.
Thanks for the concern; we’ve got this.
“Austin is just like Columbus” Arguments
Possibly in some ways, definitely not in others. We’re not here to pass any kind of “we’re better” judgement. We’re sure Columbus and the majority of people there are very nice, but trying to make city comparisons toward our SG are misdirected.
PSV and MLS are also not dumb organizations. We’re sure that a ton of research went into the market differences. The Barrett Sports Group carried out the market studies in both Columbus and Austin.
Nowhere is like Austin, nor will be for the next decade or so — if ever.
If it Can Happen in Columbus, it Can Happen Anywhere
Yes, yes it can. Columbus should be a cautionary tale. If you have a local team, support it. If you think your city/club/supporters are not able to keep up with where the market and the rest of the league is heading, be proactive about it. The movement should be all the time, not reactionary. That also doesn’t mean living in constant fear of abandonment. Relationships take work. Make sure the wife never wants to leave you, don’t wait until she has a suitcase packed to try and win her back.
The community star on the MLS badge isn’t just a principle, it should be a bilateral contract between supporters and their team / the league. If you don’t show-up, your team will go elsewhere. If your club isn’t supporting/serving its community properly, you voice your concerns — loudly and early. Club entitlement is a luxury we don’t really get in American sports — especially with the way MLS is fundamentally structured. Real change doesn’t come from forcing a team to stay in a city, it’s going to take something much larger affecting soccer in this country to create the same sense of “club” that other countries enjoy.
If It Happens in Columbus, It’ll Happen Someday in Austin
See above point.
We’re also talking about a near-term investment of hundreds of millions of dollars and the logistical effort of spinning down some operations, moving others, and starting new ones. The team’s not going anywhere in 5 years and in 20 years we’re hopefully building a new stadium because we’ll need something bigger to hold more people.
It short, we’re not too worried about it until the 2030's.
The SG is Being “Tone-Deaf”, “Condescending”, and our Favorite: “Smug”
We don’t always hit the mark with communication, but our intentions are good. To the best of our knowledge, no one from our group is starting or jumping into threads originating on Columbus fan groups or individual Twitter feeds or FB pages — starting issues or trolling Ohio supporters. Instead, it’s largely a small group of individuals jumping into Austin-originated threads and posts. These people shouldn’t be surprised when they receive less than warm responses from other supporters when not constructively contributing to the discussion.
As a group, we’re trying to answer and address any reasonable questions or civil discussion threads — regardless of who they are from. Some just choose not to hear any rational discussion that doesn’t fit their worldview, but hopefully this is constructive for others and in a more clear format than 280-characters can convey.
We’re also a supporters group, not a corporate brand. We don’t have to just take it when encountering those in the Save the Crew movement who attempt to extort, bully, troll, whine, spam, belittle, and start petty arguments with our group or our city. We get how others may come across some of these responses and it seems off-putting and out of context, but we try to keep things civil.
How to get blocked or banned
Vulgarity, hashtag or image spamming, or obvious trolling will likely get you blocked/banned without warning. We’re here to engage with our Austin soccer community. All are welcome, but if you’re just creating noise and clutter, you can do it elsewhere.
Here’s the Deal
We welcome constructive discussion. We’ve seen some very civil discourse go on. Conversation invites understanding, but doesn’t always have to result in agreement. Regardless of which side of this issue you are on, the ask is to just be decent humans to each other.
We’ll continue to update this as topics come-up. If you do have a reasonable Columbus-to-Austin related question or a concern that hasn’t been addressed, please reach out. We’ll get you an answer and get it added to this list.
Thank you for your support!
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