By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
  1. Bill Archer

    Bill Archer BigSoccer Supporter

    Mar 19, 2002
    Washington, NC
    Club:
    Columbus Crew
    Country:
    United States
    #1 Bill Archer, Dec 7, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2017 at 12:26 PM

    Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

    By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM

    In a plot twist worthy
    of the the worst of novels, the 1996 theft of the Cleveland Browns by the universally detested Art Modell may end up making it impossible for Don Garber to steal the Columbus Crew.

    Irony, thy name is SoccerDon.

    There Garber was yesterday in his ultra-luxe suite high above fifth avenue in New York, whistling a happy tune, deciding between the scampi and the scallops for lunch and getting ready for the MLS Board of Governors meeting where he's going to give the increasingly impotent owners their marching orders on which two cities they will grant the high privilege of handing over, collectively, a $300 million payday.

    [​IMG]

    Plus, with Columbus finally out of the playoffs he was finalizing his trip to Toronto to attend the MLS Cup game without having to decide between a) lying about being stuck in traffic and b) trying to pretend that he doesn't hear 22,000 people loudly suggesting he perform anatomically impossible acts on himself.

    Then an obscure state legislator from Central Ohio named Mike Duffey (R - BiteMeDon) rolled a stink bomb into the Don's perfect day.

    It seems that Duffey discovered an obscure law dating from the 1996 outrage over Modell's craven betrayal which may wreck Don and Tony's plans for being named Kings of the SXSW parade next year. It's a very short, concise law so I'll quote it in full:

    Restrictions on owner of professional sports team that uses a tax-supported facility.

    No owner of a professional sports team that uses a tax-supported facility for most of its home games and receives financial assistance from the state or a political subdivision thereof shall cease playing most of its home games at the facility and begin playing most of its home games elsewhere unless the owner either:

    (A) Enters into an agreement with the political subdivision permitting the team to play most of its home games elsewhere;

    (B) Gives the political subdivision in which the facility is located not less than six months' advance notice of the owner's intention to cease playing most of its home games at the facility and, during the six months after such notice, gives the political subdivision or any individual or group of individuals who reside in the area the opportunity to purchase the team.

    Effective Date: 06-20-1996 .

    (emphasis mine)

    MAPFRE stadium sits on fully tax-abated land with well-below market rate rent and gleans considerable income from the state built and maintained paved parking lots surrounding the place. There's no question they're "tax-supported".

    Since MLS has already turned down a very legitimate $150 million offer for the Crew, there's no question that Columbus is fully prepared to pony up the cash tomorrow and shortly thereafter build the downtown stadium which Garber and Precourt claim the Crew needs to meet whatever ethereal "business metrics" they demand.

    However, as we all know, that's not what TheSoccerDon wants; he wants out of Columbus. Period.

    Now in point of fact this law - which nobody knew about until just yesterday but which, in another signal achievement of Don Garber's tenure at the helm of MLS, if it sticks could quickly sweep the land from sea to shining taxpayer-funded stadium - has not, we're told by the legal types, been through the courts yet and nobody can say for sure how it will play out.

    We can be fairly certain though that one of two things will happen here:

    1) Various Ohio courts - tough luck on that one, eh? - will decide that the Crew will stay right where it is, thanks

    2) An ugly, protracted legal battle which could take years to adjudicate will make a bunch of lawyers very rich and Don very unemployed.

    Of course, as per usual, MLS has no comment whatsoever. Their media office has spent the last couple months refusing to answer the phone and that's likely to continue. They ought to let them spend the Winter in Florida.

    However, from whatever bunker Fratass Tony is cowering in came this dispatch, without a header or a signature:

    “Precourt Sports Ventures has seen the public remarks made by State Rep. Mike Duffey and PSV will not have further comment at this time."

    Now in truth it would be hard to match Garber's craven public act of cowardice from last week's Eastern Conference semi-final match in Toronto when, after promising FoxSports that he would appear for a pregame interview with Alexi Lalas and "extensively" deal with questions surrounding the Crew, he then had his people tell them that he was "stuck in traffic" and wouldn't be appearing.

    (Their eyerolls were, however, well worth tuning in for)

    Apparently he was still "stuck in traffic" at halftime and during the postgame as well. Hell, Lalas would have gladly met him in the parking lot or the hotel bar or the SkyLounge at Toronto Pearson. Say what you want but Roger Goodell or Adam Silver or Rob Manfred, as arrogant as they are wouldn't dare pull a stunt like that.

    The problem may have been that, earlier that day, the Mayor of the City of Columbus sent Garber and Precourt a very nice letter offering various routes to a stadium solution and inviting them to talk with him. MLS/PSV sent an insulting one sentence response - without header or signature - basically inviting His Honor to F*ck himself and possibly that didn't fit DonnyG's carefully vetted "extensively" prepared comments.

    Who knows.

    One other result of Rep. Duffey's letter to the Ohio AG will almost certainly be the torpedoing of Cincinnati's shot at being named one of the two expansion teams to be announced next week.

    It looked very much like they were a front-runner, but a big part of that was always going to be a tacit statement about replacing Columbus with another Ohio team, thus proving that it's not about flyover country but "business metrics". However, with the Columbus legal issues up in the air it says here they're not going to give Cincy a damned thing.

    In addition, they're going to want to take a serious look at locating a team in a state where it appears the law says they can never be removed. That takes away a big chunk of the league's (read: Garber's) power over a team, something they're not likely to cede without serious thought.

    So unless the league is going to change their minds about not wanting to play at cavernous Ford Field in Detroit, this likely means "Welcome to MLS, Sacramento".

    We'll look forward to seeing you play the Crew for many years to come.

    Over the past few weeks I've heard the same question from a number of people which, to summarize, goes something like: "Archer, you ignorant slut, why do you keep blaming Garber for this mess? Isn't it really Precourt doing all of this?"

    By way of an answer:

    In Austin Texas there's a lawyer named Richard Suttle and I'll let the Austin Chronicle describe who he is in a 2010 article entitled "Suttle as a kick in the head":

    Better count your chickens, Austinites, because Richard Suttle is loose in the henhouse again. Everyone's favorite developers' attorney is at City Council today ...

    Now, the very fact that Richard Suttle is involved in this project should give everyone pause. He's the developers' equivalent of criminal attorney Roy Minton: the guy you go to when you're guilty, when you want to get something approved or subsidized that you really don't deserve."


    This is the guy who appeared before Austin City Council last month getting them to agree to do an "inventory" of city parks to see which ones might have enough space for a soccer stadium.

    Now in most places, if City officials want to know something like this, they call up the Parks Commissioner and ask him to fax over a list. Maybe 20 minutes, tops.

    But apparently not in Austin. In Austin they need to send scout cars up and down the streets, tracking down signs that say "City Park" on them because, apparently, the Parks Department doesn't have a sheet of paper which lists, you know, City Parks.

    The question is, who does Suttle work for down there? Well, here's a letter from Don:

    [​IMG]


    Garber himself says that Suttle works for him. Precourt, PSV and the Crew are not mentioned.

    And here, via the Austin City Clerk's office, and the indispensable Massive Report, is a list of registered lobbyists working in that city, all of whom are employed by Suttle's law firm - Armbrust & Brown - and all of whom report that they are working on behalf of "Major League Soccer, 450 Fifth Ave. New York:

    [​IMG]

    There's lots more, like the PR firm Elizabeth Christian Public Relations, which has been retained to represent this whole charade down there - they admit to having hosted a series of "get acquainted meetings" for city officials and soccer reps, although the real question, as posed by Massive report is:

    Does MLS have similar operations in any of the 12 expansion candidate cities?

    And the answer of course is no. None at all. 12 other cities are knocking themselves out, spending significant amounts of money and time and other resources in an effort to land an MLS team. Meanwhile, Austin Texas is doing nothing, asking for nothing and contributing nothing: Don Garber is spending large amounts of league money and time trying to force the Columbus Crew down their throats.

    It's insane.

    However, the really instructive point is the date on Garber's letter: August 7.

    Note that the MLS Board of Governors met at the All Star Game on August 2, and within a week MLS, in addition to giving Suttle what amounts to MLS credentials also registered two proposed team names including the monumentally unique and exciting "Austin FC". Meanwhile, PSV started the "MLS2ATX" website ("a community of supporters working together to bring Major League Soccer to Austin, TX.") and at least two astroturf twitter accounts purporting to be run by grassroots supporters.

    (Deadspin called these astroturfing efforts "oafish" and I can't top that so I won't try, except to note that, since the people running them apparently didn't know how to turn "location" off on a Twitter, everyone saw that they were all being run out of Columbus Ohio, unquestionably by Crew employees working at MAPFRE Stadium offices.)

    As I said, all this and much more happened immediately after the August 2 BoG meeting, making it appear very much like something was decided then that gave Precourt the green light.

    So today as the suddenly gutless, suspiciously silent owners gather in Toronto - I hope someone makes sure Don gets there in time - they're going to get to review the fruits of that decision.

    Now there's a wall well-worth being a fly on.


    * BigSoccer Commandatore @Smithsoccer1721 informs me that an unknown local citizen was the one who told Rep, Duffey about the law.

    (*UPDATE* Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine says that after a review of the applicable law,
    "should ownership of the Columbus Crew initiate a move of the team without complying with Ohio law, I am prepared to take the necessary legal action under this law to protect the interests of the state of Ohio..")
     
    argo15, WhiteHartShame, C-bus and 39 others repped this.

Comments

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Bill Archer, Dec 7, 2017.

    1. Sport Billy

      Sport Billy Moderator
      Staff Member

      May 25, 2006

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      I'm so happy that Garber is finally being exposed
       
    2. BlitzSpiele

      BlitzSpiele Member

      Sep 7, 2007

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      Thank you, Dog Pound. With you, we-unz couldn't.
       
    3. GlennAA11

      GlennAA11 Member+

      Jun 12, 2001
      Arlington, VA

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      is the mixing up of ESPN and Fox on purpose?
       
      Bill Archer repped this.
    4. Jazzy Altidore

      Jazzy Altidore Member+

      Sep 2, 2009
      San Francisco
      Club:
      Los Angeles Galaxy
      Country:
      United States

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      They will give Columbus citizens the "opportunity" to purchase the team for a price they know will never be met.
       
      USRufnex repped this.
    5. athletics68

      athletics68 Member+

      Dec 12, 2006
      San Diego & San Jose
      Club:
      San Jose Earthquakes
      Country:
      United States

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      Would still kill the move for 2018 though, no?
       
    6. Martininho

      Martininho Member+

      Feb 13, 2007
      Chicago
      Club:
      --other--
      Country:
      United States

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      Which will lead to the potential death of many trees as what is a "commercially reasonable" price is debated. I say "potential" only because the discovery requests for financial disclosures and course of dealing to validate such a price, that will follow, as night follows day, will be...unwelcomed.
       
      zanycrew, Unak78 and Bill Archer repped this.
    7. Bill Archer

      Bill Archer BigSoccer Supporter

      Mar 19, 2002
      Washington, NC
      Club:
      Columbus Crew
      Country:
      United States

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      No, just pure early morning brainfart.
       
    8. Unak78

      Unak78 BigSoccer Supporter

      Dec 17, 2007
      PSG & Enyimba FC
      Club:
      Chelsea FC
      Country:
      Nigeria

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      The plot thickens...
       
      Sal Paradise repped this.
    9. Unak78

      Unak78 BigSoccer Supporter

      Dec 17, 2007
      PSG & Enyimba FC
      Club:
      Chelsea FC
      Country:
      Nigeria

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      Well, if the city could set up a trust or an IPO, then it would be up to an undetermined group of investors to purchase shares in the Crew. I'm not privy as to how the GB Packers started their public ownership or even the clubs in Germany or Spain, perhaps the shares weren't as valuable back when they were started, but I can't imagine that there aren't a few hundred people in Cbus who could put up the larger percentages with fans making up the rest.
       
    10. Justin O

      Justin O Member+

      Nov 30, 1998
      Seattle
      Club:
      Seattle

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      I'm still surprised the whole "stuck in traffic" thing did not generate more commentary outside of Bigsoccer and Crew fans.
       
      Grouchy, Timon19 and bigredfutbol repped this.
    11. Robert Borden

      Robert Borden Member

      Chelsea
      Canada
      Apr 19, 2017
      Toronto, Ontario
      Country:
      Canada

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      Good job!

      As a Canadian who saw Gary Bettman steal 2 Canadian teams just to move them to bigger TV markets and leaving fans behind, I understand the Crew fans and support them.

      Yet another reason I can't watch MLS...fans aren't a priority
       
    12. Cincy Liverpool fan

      Fc Cincinnati
      Jun 16, 2015
      Cincinnati, USA
      Club:
      Cincinnati Kings

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      1. They have given Columbus more than a year's notice
      2. The opportunity to buy only applies when the team is being sold. It's not being sold.

      Shit out of luck
       
      H48omer repped this.
    13. kgilbert78

      kgilbert78 Member+

      Dec 28, 2006
      Cowlumbus, OH
      Club:
      Borussia Mönchengladbach
      Country:
      United States

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      Did you read the law? Says nothing about a team being sold before the rule kicks in--just moved.

      In case you are unable to scroll up, I'll repeat it:

      (B) Gives the political subdivision in which the facility is located not less than six months' advance notice of the owner's intention to cease playing most of its home games at the facility and, during the six months after such notice, gives the political subdivision or any individual or group of individuals who reside in the area the opportunity to purchase the team.
       
      C-bus, ibrew, American Brummie and 3 others repped this.
    14. Jazzy Altidore

      Jazzy Altidore Member+

      Sep 2, 2009
      San Francisco
      Club:
      Los Angeles Galaxy
      Country:
      United States

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      Who says the price has to be "commercially reasonable"? I don't see that in the law. The seller decides.
       
    15. kgilbert78

      kgilbert78 Member+

      Dec 28, 2006
      Cowlumbus, OH
      Club:
      Borussia Mönchengladbach
      Country:
      United States

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      This is similar to eminent domain--thus "reasonable" may apply here. But it is uncharted territory, legally.
       
      ibrew and Cavan9 repped this.
    16. DAFCrew

      DAFCrew Member+

      Feb 27, 2007
      Terre Haute, Indiana
      Club:
      Columbus Crew

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      1. The league and ownership - scum that they are - are still claiming that no final decision has been reached.
      2. You didn't read the actual law by any chance, did you?

      Shit for brains.
       
      Timon19, Cavan9 and QuarkspaceDotCom repped this.
    17. SamsArmySam

      SamsArmySam Member+

      Apr 13, 2001
      Minneapolis, MN

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      And who says the seller decides? I just see "the opportunity to purchase."

      This obscure law hasn't been tested in the courts yet, but the AG apparently is up for the fight. Things like "commercial reasonableness" will be part of the litigation process. And the court hearing the case is an Ohio court.

      What a headache for Don and AP. Love it!
       
      ibrew, POdinCowtown and TOAzer repped this.
    18. TOAzer

      TOAzer Member

      May 29, 2016
      Club:
      New England Revolution

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      Again, this was all so stupid, so unnecessary, so counterproductive to the progress of the league. What the heck??
       
      russ, Atomic Fury, stanger and 6 others repped this.
    19. The Franchise

      The Franchise Member+

      Nov 13, 2014
      Bakersfield, CA
      Club:
      Real Salt Lake
      Country:
      United States

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      Given that the last independent estimated value of the team was $135M and the price of a new franchise is $150M, the local offer is at least close to what is required. If PSV wants more, they may need an independent evaluation.
       
      Stupid_American repped this.
    20. Cincy Liverpool fan

      Fc Cincinnati
      Jun 16, 2015
      Cincinnati, USA
      Club:
      Cincinnati Kings

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      You can't eminent domain a business. We aren't a communist or fascist state. If it is not interpreted the way I took it (community has first chance to purchase if being sold*) then it is blatantly unconstitutional.
       
    21. POdinCowtown

      POdinCowtown Moderator
      Staff Member

      Jan 15, 2002
      Columbus

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      You can indeed use eminent domain against businesses and intangible as well as real property. And that makes complete sense. If a commercial property is condemned, the tenants as well as the property owners are entitled to compensation. The flip side is that the tenants are also subject to the taking.

      Columbus has used eminent domain to clean up the OSU campus area bar scene by condemning and taking the bar businesses including their contents and licenses as well as the real estate they were located in. That was to keep them from just moving down the block. Same principle here.
       
      ibrew, hardhead, zanycrew and 2 others repped this.
    22. POdinCowtown

      POdinCowtown Moderator
      Staff Member

      Jan 15, 2002
      Columbus

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      I'm curious what goes in to the Forbes team valuations since they don't seem very closely tied to team revenues or operating incomes. MLS claims the teams operate at a loss and money losing businesses aren't very valuable, at least if valued on profitability. If valued on replacement cost, then it would seem to be $150 mil + the value of the stadium. If valued on market value, then it's likely to be decided by a jury. A standard MLS franchise comes with part ownership of SUM and it's not clear that new owners in Columbus would receive that.

      It's generally believed around here that the Crew operate at a loss while the stadium operates profitably, charging the team a hefty rent. That would all come out in a taking case.
       
      The Franchise repped this.
    23. Sport Billy

      Sport Billy Moderator
      Staff Member

      May 25, 2006

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      It is NOT eminent domain.

      It is a restriction on land use. If you want to have a "tax-supported facility", it's part of your agreement of getting the tax support.

      The law was passed 2 years before they even broke ground on the facility.

      They built with knowledge of the law.
       
    24. Jazzy Altidore

      Jazzy Altidore Member+

      Sep 2, 2009
      San Francisco
      Club:
      Los Angeles Galaxy
      Country:
      United States

      Columbus Drops the Bomb on MLS, and Don's Dirty Hands

      By Bill Archer on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:12 AM
      The seller has a basic due process property right to sell his property at whatever price he pleases. The statue does nothing to alter that, regardless of whether the AG is up for a fight.
       

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