Big Daddy Kane might not have thought pimping was easy, but back when he wrote that song he hadn’t seen how simple it was for the Columbus Crew’s grease-palmed owner Anthony Precourt to merely raise a hand menacingly at his current john—the city of Columbus—while also whispering of his service’s illicit physical pleasures into the ear his next one—the city of Austin—and in doing so attain the exact monetary come-up he was after.
This is, in a certain manner of speaking, essentially what happened today in the city council of Austin, Texas. In a seven to four vote, the council agreed to allow the city and Precourt to enter negotiations on a construction plan for a soccer stadium that eventually is to become the new home of the MLS franchise Precourt currently houses out in Ohio. The vote is a big boost to MLS’s latest effort to grow the game’s obscenely rich soccer procurers’ bank accounts.
Precourt, with MLS’s approval, has been plotting to drag the Crew out of Columbus for a while now, with his eye firmly fixed on the money his franchise could slurp out of the pockets of Austin’s citizens. It was a little less than a year ago when he formally announced this plan with his “Columbus, build me a new stadium or else” shakedown ultimatum. Precourt has continued to spout a bunch of bullshit in an effort to justify his avarice-inspired migration scheme—whining about the Crew’s outdated stadium (despite the soccer-specific venue being less than 20 years old), low attendances, and lack of economic support from the community—but his crocodile tears have convinced no one. Which hasn’t mattered, since all it takes to bring the Crew south is Precourt’s will, MLS’s complicity, and the city of Austin’s open arms to welcome Precourt’s bloated face and all that sweet sweet flesh he promises to parade about town.
Today’s city council vote is the strongest indicator yet that the Crew’s move will indeed go down. Specific negotiations between the city and Precourt have yet to occur, as the vote only green-lights the talks between the two parties. With negotiations now officially sanctioned and needing no more official rubber-stamping other than the two parties signing a contract, though, it should be only a matter of time before the deal is wrapped up. The city of Columbus still has an open lawsuit against the Crew that, if successful, could stop the move, but the actual prospects of that case are unclear at the moment.
The proposed stadium isn’t supposed to be ready until the 2021 season, but should Precourt and Austin agree on a deal soon enough, the Crew could theoretically be relocated to Austin as soon as next season—provided they find a temporary venue to host the games in the interim. The team’s new stadium will be privately financed, which is good for Austin. Then again, Precourt is being handed access to acres and acres of prime real estate that could go to better, more citizenry-enriching uses, which is bad for Austin. From Austin’s point of view, at least this stadium financing deal won’t be as bad as it could’ve been.
Clearly Precourt and MLS envision bigger financial returns for themselves if Precourt pays for a new stadium in Austin than if he kept the team playing in the one already built for the team in Columbus. MLS and Precourt must consider the devastation of an entire fanbase and the undermining of the professed ideals of the hypocritical, Kafkaesque league a small price to pay for the chance to make some more money. Precourt and MLS may be the pimps in this metaphor, and the people of Austin the eager johns waiting with bated breath for the skin show to come to town, but somehow it’s the fans of the Columbus Crew who are the ones truly getting fucked.