UPDATE: As expected, an agreement in principle to “sell” the Columbus Crew to the Haslam/Edwards group was announced today. The official “sale” is expected to be finalized in January, with the new owners taking control of the team at the beginning of the year.
The end is almost here.
The announced dismissal of the Modell Lawsuit paves the way for the endgame in the SaveTheCrew saga which began over a year ago. While there are still a few hurdles left to clear, it looks to be relatively clear road ahead to keep the Columbus Crew in Columbus for a long time to come.
Procedurally, the only real thing to note is that the dismissal “without prejudice” allows the lawsuit to be resurrected if something insane happens, such as MLS heading to Crew headquarters this afternoon with a bunch of U-Hauls and hightailing it to Austin.
As City Attorney Zach Klien noted in his press release, “I believe we are finally there. After having conversations with the new ownership group, I believe that it’s time to tentatively dismiss the lawsuit so that the deal can be finalized, and once it’s done, the case can be permanently closed.”
Given that all of the government forces have completed their obligations per the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Austin and MLS have executed their lease development agreement, it’s been all over but the shouting for some time now. With an expected announcement of a sale at…well any moment actually, Crew fans will be able to focus on roster news, schedule announcement and (at long last) actually buying tickets to games.
That said, there are still a few loose end to tie up. After the sale (or, “ownership transition”) is announced, the parties will need to come to an agreement on a lease/development agreement of their own. The MOU was non-binding, and didn’t set out a number of the needed agreements between MLS and the City/County/State with a development on this scale.
Since the groundbreaking isn’t expected until summer 2019, there is some time to get that done. Though, not a lot of time. It took Austin about 120 days to get their deal with MLS over the line, and they were working off of a very thorough Term Sheet, which doesn’t exist here.
Another piece of good news is that there does not appear to be an organized opposition to the government commitments in this deal. Speaking to people involved in negotiations over the public financing components, it all appears to be very promising to get this done with a minimum amount of fuss, which is certainly different from the land/stadium deals in Miami, San Diego and to a lesser degree Austin.
That’s all for another day, of course. The dismissal is a significant milestone in this saga, and Crew fans can look forward to a weekend celebrating the “Save” in SaveTheCrew.