To Commissioner Garber, MLS Senior Officers, and Investor-Operators of all Major League Soccer teams,
We, the recognized Supporters Groups, season ticket holders, and fans of all Major League Soccer teams, are writing to encourage you to keep the Columbus Crew SC in Columbus, Ohio.
We think this move does harm not only to the Columbus Crew SC team and its fans, but also does harm to all other teams and especially the league itself.
First, the Crew has been a fixture in Columbus since the league’s inception as the very first chartered team in Major League Soccer. Moving this franchise will uproot league history and devalue and damage the league’s future marketing opportunities and messages centered around longevity and stability. Moving an original team destroys a piece of history that can never be reclaimed.
Second, this move sets a terrible business precedent and threatens the valuation of all other teams. If an investor feels they can purchase a lower-priced team and then relocate them to any place of their choosing, why would anybody ever bother to go through the much higher-priced and less certain process of applying for an expansion team? Not only does this undermine the case for the high expansion fees the league now seeks, but it causes a loss in shared revenues for every other club owner each time this is allowed to happen.
Lastly, and most importantly of all, is the immense and irreparable damage this move would cause to the entire MLS fan base’s trust in the league. While many American sports teams move towns based on profitability projections, Major League Soccer has time and again marketed a more authentic global soccer experience of fandom to us fans, including the league’s “community” focus, which was so critical it was immortalized as one of three stars on the MLS crest rebrand of 2015. The league says it wants to market itself by ingraining teams into the fabric of their unique communities, whether that is touting public-private partnerships for stadiums, encouraging local sponsorships and ownership groups, and even by including local civic icons like flags and crests right into the branding of each club. We want to believe this and envision a future of sharing experiences with friends, family, and future generations within the context of MLS’ promise.
This proposed move would undermine that idea as nothing but a hollow marketing tactic. It forces fans to question if their own clubs are at the whim of an owner who seeks ownership solely as an investment portfolio item, and not as a steward of the history and hearts of a proud local community. Simply put: If this can happen to Columbus, we feel it can then happen anywhere. And we cannot and do not want to imagine that happening to us.
It is for these reasons we write to you, our league officials and our individual team investor- operator groups. Please use all of your combined creativity, foresight and authorities to find a better solution to this move and do not allow the Columbus Crew SC to relocate. Please, #SaveTheCrew.
- The undersigned fans of MLS