Precourt Sports Ventures of San Francisco has bought the Columbus Crew from Hunt Sports Group. Clark Hunt, chairman of Hunt Sports Group, made the announcement today at Crew Stadium.
On the eve of J. Anthony Precourt's unveiling as the new chairman and operator-investor of the Crew and Crew Stadium, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman had one question.
"My first question was, 'Is the Crew staying in Columbus?' He said, 'Absolutely. The Crew is in Columbus to stay.' " Coleman said.
Today at noon, Precourt was officially introduced as the second investor-operator in Crew history at a press conference inside the Upper 90 Club at Crew Stadium. Flanked behind a table with Coleman to his right and departing owner Clark Hunt to his left, Precourt had earned the approval of the city's mayor.
"I've come to understand his passion for soccer," Coleman said. "He has a genuine interest and commitment to Columbus."
Precourt, the managing partner for Precourt Capital Management and Precourt Sports Ventures, has purchased 100 percent of the Crew. Precourt declined to discuss the financial terms of the deal.
Precourt first approached the Crew in April and expressed an interest in acquiring a minority stake in the club. The Crew has been fruitlessly engaging potential investors for minority ownership for several years, but as Precourt grew more familiar with the organization his interest level grew.
"It's an emotional process," Precourt said. "I've laid awake a lot of nights contemplating those decisions. The more I thought about it, I wanted to be involved. I had so much passion and excitement and enthusiasm for Major League Soccer, I wanted to be the guy. So that's what we're doing."
The Hunts and Precourt began to talk more seriously about his ownership stake within the last four months. Although the contract does not contain any clause that would bind the club to Columbus, Precourt said he is committed to the city.
"I think it was very important to the Hunt family and to Major League Soccer that the Crew would remain in Columbus," Precourt said. "We're very committed to that. We're excited to be here. I'm excited to get to know Columbus better. To be honest, I haven't spent a lot of time here but I intend to start spending a lot of time here."
The Crew was not the only MLS team Precourt said he had approached about becoming a minority investor but declined to name the other teams he spoke with.
A native of San Francisco, Precourt said he will own a second home in Columbus but will not live here full time.