Every step of the MLS franchise relocation process

What happens when a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise relocates? Unlike the NFL or NBA where dozens of teams have moved across the country, it’s rare in the MLS. In fact, Houston Dynamo is the only franchise to relocate in the league’s 20-odd years of existence.

While Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV) is hammering out a stadium deal with the City of Austin, the group has some work to do behind the scenes to relocate the franchise.

Get the blessing from MLS

Most importantly, PSV needs the final blessing from the MLS (and commissioner Don Garber). You see, teams in the MLS aren’t independently-owned like they are in other professional sports. MLS owns the actual team (and player contracts), while PSV is a shareholder in the league and an operator of a team.

The Commish has already publicly-voiced approval for a Crew SC move, so this should be as easy as a PK (think: slam dunk).

Choose team name and colors

Because the MLS owns the team, the leagues decides if the Crew SC name and Black & Gold colors stay or go. If the league thinks they can get another expansion team to Columbus down the road, then the team name and colors stay. This is what happened with the team relocation from San Jose to Houston. The Earthquakes name, colors, and competition records were kept by the league for a future team in San Jose.

My guess is that the name and colors will move with PSV. Years of poor attendance, lack of business sponsorship, weak revenue, and poor local television ratings has left a bad taste in the mouth of the MLS, making it unlikely they ever return to Columbus.

I’m not sure what happens then. PSV will have to weigh the benefits of keeping the Crew SC name, and all of that historical significance, with creating a new team name and colors that Austin fans can get behind.

Find local business sponsors

Everything from the front of the soccer jersey to the stadium has a sponsor’s name slapped on it. PSV has previously said they’ve identified 37 Austin-area companies for corporate partnerships. Business sponsorship was lacking in Columbus, but with all the thriving companies in Austin, PSV may not have to pound on doors for too long.

In case PSV needs some help choosing a sponsor for the front of the jersey, here are a few of my ideas:

  • Franklin Barbecue (my mouth is already watering just thinking about that 4-hour queue)
  • Birds Barbershop (because soccer players have the freshest haircuts of any sport)
  • HomeAway (just to add some confusion to home and away jerseys)
  • Troublemaker Studios (scratch that…it may induce too many yellow cards)
  • RetailMeNot (wait..is there a sponsor or isn’t there?)
  • Tito’s Handmade Vodka (not sure what the MLS policy is on alcohol sponsors, but I like it)
  • Indeed (as long as every time a goal is scored the commentators are required to say “Another Goal?” “Yes, Indeeeeeed!”)
  • YETI (only if a person in a big, hairy yeti costume roams the sidelines hoarding soccer balls to take back to his Inner Space cavern)

Also, check out our story identifying potential local sponsors for Austin FC’s kit.

Bring on local investors

PSV is seeking certain Austin locals to be minority owners. Not only will it give the team a cash infusion, but it will tie the team closer to the community. As an example, the newest MLS team, Los Angeles FC, has over 20 owners, including Magic Johnson, Tony Robbins, Mia Hamm Garciaparra, Nomar Garciaparra, and Will Ferrell.

Of course, I’ve created my own list of investors PSV should go after:

  • Willie Nelson (anything Willie’s involved in is going to be a good time)
  • Matthew McConaughey (imagine those pre-game pep talks to the players)
  • Vince Young (it’s V frickin’ Y)
  • Mia Hamm (the trifecta of soccer goddess, Austinite, and owner of another MLS team)
  • Robert Rodriguez (I’m thinking kickass action-packed, Hollywood-style team hype videos)
  • John Paul DeJoria (keep those players hairstyles looking tight with an unlimited supply of the billionaire’s Paul Mitchell hair products)

Let’s celebrate, y’all!

Whew! The deal is final and the relocation process is done. Time to officially announce the franchise’s arrival. At a downtown bar, PSV joins the Mayor and city council members, with fans and friends in attendance, to welcome coach Berhalter and the players.

It’s customary to give the team gifts at the ceremony—electric guitars from the Live Music Capital of the World would be fitting.