Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is doing what he can to keep the Columbus Crew in Columbus, Ohio.
On Monday, he tweeted that his office and the city of Columbus filed a lawsuit against Precourt Sports Ventures—Anthony Precourt is the Crew owner—in an effort to stop the team from leaving for Austin, Texas:
Ohio AG Mike DeWine @OhioAG
#BREAKING: My office, and the city of Columbus, has filed a lawsuit against Precourt Sports Ventures, the operator/investor of @ColumbusCrewSC, & @MLS, to protect taxpayer interests & ensure they follow the law if they seek to move the team to TX. #CrewSC https://t.co/01Mo8QRYGv
Marty Schladen and Randy Ludlow of the Columbus Dispatch reported on the story, noting Precourt has publicly said he wants to move the team to Austin.
"The lawsuit filed Monday in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court seeks to invoke a 1996 law enacted after Art Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore, where the team was renamed the Ravens," Schladen and Ludlow explained. "The law says that no professional team that gets public assistance or uses public facilities can leave town without giving six months notice and giving locals an opportunity to buy the team."
The Columbus Dispatch story noted State Representative Mike Duffey urged DeWine to file the lawsuit, saying the Crew's stadium—Mapfre Stadium—sits on tax-exempt land and benefits from the $5 million for parking upgrades the state provided in 2009.
Precourt has also been met with opposition outside of members of the Ohio government.
According to Schladen and Ludlow, there was opposition in Austin regarding a plan to build a stadium on lakefront parkland, and the city's parks and recreation board then passed a resolution in an effort to remove a second city park from consideration.
There has also been a groundswell of support for keeping the Crew in Columbus among soccer fans since Precourt revealed his intentions, with the hashtag #SaveTheCrew sweeping social media and making appearances on posters at games.
NBC 4 in Columbus cited leaders of the "Save the Crew" movement who said more than 200 business allies have joined the cause.
Columbus, one of the MLS' 10 original teams, reached the Eastern Conference Finals of the MLS last year, only to lose to Toronto FC with a spot in the MLS Cup on the line.