The Columbus-Austin story is being revised in Austin.
My favorite conspiracy theory: Crew fans personally damaged the bathrooms at Mapfre Stadium so that they could claim Precourt was a negligent owner and thus generate sympathy for their Save The Crew cause.
Perhaps there is some truth to the story. Maybe there was a drunk fan who took out his frustration on a urinal. Perhaps, he thought, “This is to pretend Precourt is a negligent owner, and it will generate sympathy for the Save The Crew cause.”
If you believe it, then you think MLS commissioner Don Garber did everything in his power to find local owners before surreptitiously selling the Crew to Precourt in 2013.
And you’ll ignore the most salient facts in all of this:
Précourt had an exit clause with Austin in his sales contract. He was an absent owner replacing an absent owner, he bought the team to move it to Texas and the fix lasted seven years. All of this has been documented in court records.
FOX studio analyst Alexi Lalas continued to clear the facts on Sunday by digging deeper into a league talking point: Everything went very well for everyone! Check out Austin’s new stadium! Look at this new market! Check out the new Columbus Stadium and Training Ground! Wonderful for MLS!
Garber presented this argument to me over two years ago, after the Crew was rescued (and finally showed up to Columbus). He said the searing civic upheaval he and Precourt visited on Columbus was something the city had to experience.
There may be some truth to this story. Perhaps our city leaders were asleep before they were awakened by a sneak attack.
Garber is not a benevolent guardian. He stabbed San Antonio to make Austin work. He had to be sued to accept local property in Columbus. Then he went into extortion mode.
The Haslam and Edwards families had to pay $ 150 million to buy the Crew. Then they invested an additional $ 400 million, more or less, for a new stadium and a new training center. They did so under artificially intense delay pressure.
In summary: Garber failed, for over a decade, to find local owners for the Crew; he sold the team to a handpicked carpet picker and conspired to move the operation to Austin; he helped the new owner send mud to Columbus and Crew fans in an attempt to kill the market (and also failed); he only did the right thing under the threat of legal action.
Was it all necessary? And now everything is wonderful because Lalas says so?
As for Lalas, he’s upset for the fun of it, so he doesn’t defend anything. Here’s what he’s selling: A kidnapping took place but the victim was rescued before being killed, so no crime was committed.
Interesting logic, that.
The people at Save The Crew are tired. They just want to sit in the new Nordecke and watch football, like normal people. But, man, it hurts when people start to tear off their scabs. To be subjected to a revisionist story spread 1,200 miles from the truth is infuriating.
Emotions were heightened as the Crew’s first-ever meeting with Austin FC approached Sunday at Q2 Stadium in Austin. It was a game of some historical significance, for obvious reasons. But it really wasn’t a rivalry game.
Crew fans hold many of those who wear Austin’s colors in high regard, including coach Josh Wolff, a former assistant to Gregg Berhalter in Columbus, and former Crew players Hector Jimenez, Seb Berhalter and Brad. Stuver, among others. It’s like Crew South over there.
Austin energetically dominated the crew and the match ended in a 0-0 draw. The players kissed. Good for the FC, for their fans and their city. It was a magnificent spectacle. Long live you.
Yet Precourt and his minions must understand something: they are not held in high esteem by Columbus. And any attempt in Austin, no matter how small, to turn kidnapping attempts into wronged parties is not only historically inaccurate, it is petty and insulting. It evokes a trauma that so many people in central Ohio still feel deeply.
Even Lalas should understand this.