When the newly formed Precourt Sports Ventures LLC and managing partner Anthony Precourt first visited Columbus Crew Stadium, they were greeted by the stadium’s scoreboard bursting into flames. Three months later, Precourt was announced as the new chairman and investor-operator of the team after the group purchased the entirety of the Crew from the Hunt Sports Group.
“This is a really special moment for me and my family,” Precourt said at a press conference introducing the new ownership Tuesday. “As a passionate sports fan and a member of a multi-generational soccer household and energy investor, I’ve long admired the contributions the Hunt family has made to both business and sports, including their commitment to Major League Soccer and the Crew.
"With this honor, we will respectfully and diligently try to uphold Lamar’s vision for the Columbus Crew. Further, we will honor his fan-first mentality which started with the Crew playing in the first soccer-specific stadium in the league.”
Precourt declined to specify the cost of the deal for personal reasons, but confirmed that the group will own 100 percent of the team, and does not expect to seek minority owners for some time.
Clark Hunt, chairman of the Hunt Sports Group, said that the team had been exploring minority ownership options for the team until Precourt made a bold move.
“Anthony came to us and during the summer said, ‘I’m not just interested in being a minority owner of the Crew. I want to own the whole team and run and operate it,’” Hunt said. “We were initially very taken aback by his interest, but after we got to know Anthony, we concluded that he was the right guy to lead the Columbus Crew, that he would be a great fit for the city of Columbus, that he would be somebody that would push the team to be successful and ultimately be a great partner for the other investors in Major League Soccer.”
Though Precourt said that he currently resides in Northern California and has ties to Texas, Connecticut and Florida, the corporate finance veteran emphasized that he is completely committed to keeping the team in Columbus, and that the city played a role in his choice to purchase the team instead of other options that he had looked into.
“The city feels right,” he said. “I see so much opportunity here in Columbus ... we have all the resources we need to make the Crew increasingly relevant locally and nationally, stronger financially and more competitive on the field.”
Precourt said that changes will not come immediately, but that the top concern is that the team “needs to win.”
“We’re going to be thoughtful and thorough in the decisions that we make,” he said. “We’re not going to make knee-jerk reactions. Our intent is to come in and have it be status quo here for a while, learn and ask a lot of questions, and by season’s end we’ll start to build our business plan for the following year and we’ll be probably be making some changes.”
In the meantime, Precourt said that ticket sales, naming rights and making the brand “a little more exciting” are the priorities. Referencing the recent Sporting Kansas City rebrand, Precourt assessed the team’s branding with a smile.
“We’re going to leave no stone unturned," he said. "I love the name. I love the colors. The badge ... we might have to take a look at the badge.”