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Insider Notes: Potential Columbus Relocation Could Have MLS Expansion Ripple Effect

Columbus's potential move to Austin could have ripple effects in the MLS expansion landscape.

What is one of the biggest impacts of the Columbus Crew potentially moving to Austin? Well, consider MLS expansion.

A source with knowledge of the situation says that if Columbus moves, and thus opens up some real estate in the Midwest, it will dramatically increase the chances that Cincinnati and even Detroit get expansion teams and essentially kill the chances of San Antonio. The source said owner Anthony Precourt would only move Columbus to Austin and is not considering a move to Detroit, Cincinnati or anywhere else.

Precourt acknowledged the possibility of relocation on Tuesday, and MLS commissioner Don Garber weighed in as well, stressing how business needs have facilitated the potential development.

“As attendance league-wide continues to grow on a record-setting pace, and markets across the country seek to join MLS, Columbus’ situation is particularly concerning,” Garber said in a statement. “Despite PSV’s (Precourt Sports Ventures) 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.”

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MLS has said it will name two more expansion teams in December, with the league continuing on its path to 28 teams.

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