Effectively immediately, new ownership will lead the Columbus Crew, the city’s Major League Soccer franchise, as announced during a press conference at Crew Stadium July 30.
Precourt Sports Ventures, LLC, has acquired the team from the Hunt Sports Group for an undisclosed purchase price and is now a 100 percent stakeholder. Anthony Precourt is the managing partner of PSV and attended the press conference as the firm’s representative.
Columbus mayor Michael Coleman and Clark Hunt, chairman of HSG and CEO of the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL, joined Precourt on stage.
In the context of that watershed event, Hunt spoke of his family’s role in the galvanizing of Major League Soccer as an American mainstay.
“There was one thing that propelled the League on to success, to where it is today. Against the odds, and against the momentum of the League, my family made the decision to build Crew Stadium. And as a result, today there are 14 soccer-specific stadiums in Major League Soccer,” said Hunt.
Hunt said his company had only been looking for minority investors in the team when Precourt made the offer to buy the entire franchise earlier this summer.
“We were initially very taken aback by his interest, but after we got to know Anthony, we concluded that he was the right guy to lead the Columbus Crew, that he would be a great fit for the city of Columbus, that he would be somebody that would push the team to be successful on the field,” said Hunt.
Precourt said his company “will respectfully and diligently try to uphold Lamar’s (Clark Hunt’s father) vision for Major League Soccer and the Crew. And further, we will honor his fan-first mentality.”
Precourt used the platform to formally greet the Greater Columbus community and to express his anticipation of working toward success in “a dynamic, growing city with incredible soccer heritage and a passionate soccer supporters’ fan base.”
Mayor Coleman agreed by saying “the Columbus Crew is a vital part of the fabric and the future of the city.”
He laid out specifics of the role the Crew has played in financially bolstering the city’s bottom line: “$400 million in direct spending, the hundreds of area jobs, the 3.5 million people who have attended soccer matches and other events here, the millions of tax revenue.”
The mayor said Precourt assured him during talks in the days preceding the press conference that the team would remain in Columbus.
When the panel concluded their remarks and opened the floor for questions, one reporter asked if Precourt had any plans of relocation.
Precourt surprised the reporters by saying, “I do live in Northern California now, and I intend to be here on a regular basis. I’m not sure we’ll be moving here full time, but I’ll be here very, very regularly and have a second home here.”
Continuing to speak on his vision for the team to succeed athletically, Precourt said, “We have a competitive fire, and our intent is to run this club with a single mission: to create the resources to win over the short run and the long run…We want to be a playoff team every year.”
Precourt fielded questions about his ownership style, given that it will be his family’s first journey into sports management after extensive operational experience in finance, natural gas pipelines and facilities.
“First and foremost, I want a great culture…I want more horizontal structure where people are empowered. I guess you’d say I’ll be hands-on and attentive and involved, and over time, I will empower our employees to do their jobs well,” said Precourt.
Beyond the scope of the business aspects of the acquisition, Precourt was careful to emphasize his goals for fostering a winning franchise that draws fans and gets them excited about soccer in Columbus.
“A full stadium is a lot more exciting than a two-thirds-full stadium. There are 17 home games, and we should fill the stadium for all 17 games,” said Precourt.
As a father, Precourt has coached youth soccer in U6 and U8 competition, but he said he said he will stay out of the day-to-day soccer operations of the Columbus Crew.
Hunt said his company will “continue to be the investor-operator of [MLS franchise] FC Dallas and plan on doing so for many years to come. Like Anthony, we’re a big believer in where Major League Soccer is headed and excited to still be part of the League and to now be a partner of Anthony’s through the League.”