Andrew Erickson just obtained a letter from PSV/MLS to the City of Columbus/State of Ohio (Friday evenings are for breaking/dumping news) regarding the lawsuit filed to prevent them from moving the Columbus Crew to Austin. Let’s dig in, shall we?
We’ll go through this paragraph-by-paragraph:
Your basic summary. We lawyers get paid by the word, after all.
Essentially, this is a lawyerly way of saying, “we don’t believe this applies, but even if it does, we’ve complied with everything we’re supposed to.” Of interest, this seems to hint at a potential argument, indicating that there has been ample time since this news came out for local ownership to come and make a bona fide offer to purchase the team. Basically, “you’ve had your chance.” I’m not sure that’s going to fly, but again, lawyers.
To amplify this point, PSV/MLS go into some detail to show that the City of Columbus effectively had “constructive notice” (i.e., “you should have known”) on the move since the story regarding the move to Austin was made back in October, and at a minimum by November when the parties had that infamous meeting to discuss the move. Now, I doubt a “constructive notice” argument is going to get very far, especially given the “parallel paths” claims by PSV/MLS, but that’s why corporations have in-house counsel, to come up with novel legal arguments.
Again, PSV/MLS stress that this may not even apply (“to the extent required”), but their argument could be that the City has had ample time to process the fact that the PSV wants to move, and therefore could have pursued any course of action they wanted. And, I’m not sure this notice issue really matters, inasmuch as we’re still more than six months out from the end of the year, or the beginning of MLS 2019.
And here is the money shot. For purposes of any future arguments, you can mark down today (3/16/18) as, at minimum, the date notice was given that PSV/MLS intend to cease playing at Mapfre Stadium. Interestingly, PSV/MLS are also covering their bases regarding the second provision of the statute, by requesting that offers by interested local ownership groups to purchase the team be proffered to PSV/MLS.
Again, they’re clearly not stipulating to the validity of this lawsuit, but they are wisely covering themselves in the event they lose the injunction/lawsuit. And now they can investigate how substantial those offers to purchase the team are. And we could potentially get a look at how PSV/MLS value the team. That’s likely to open of another can of worms, as there is no indication per the statute, that PSV/MLS are required to accept any offer, let alone a bona fide/market value one.
As I said, we lawyers get paid by the word.
Andrew also has a response from Attorney General DeWine, which says what you’d think it would. The next step for the plaintiffs is to file the injunction. This does not mean that PSV/MLS are forgoing any defenses (they specifically reserve all defenses) regarding ripeness, but I think we can safely assume that both sides are now preparing for the long fight ahead.