On Tuesday, Columbus Eagles FC sent a letter to all the members of the Austin, Texas, City Council, in regards to their ongoing talks with Precourt Sports Ventures, the Columbus Crew, and PSV’s “support” of women’s soccer. The letter, written by Eagles CEO Mark Wise, is available below in its entirety.
To Whom It May Concern:
I have been following with keen interest your dealings and negotiations with Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV), as I am a long-time fan of Columbus Crew SC. As the owner of the Columbus Eagles, the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) team here in Columbus, Ohio, I was especially interested in recent developments where it appears PSV has offered to prove it cares about “Gender Equality” by funding and supporting a WPSL team there in Austin.
I felt compelled to write to you in the hopes that – while you are making this tough decision – you are fully aware of the facts regarding PSV’s support for women’s soccer.
When I created the Columbus Eagles in the fall of 2013, I reached out to Columbus Crew SC’s President of Business Operations to determine Crew SC’s interest in the women’s side of the game. It was important to me to talk to them first – I was concerned that should I invest in building a fan base for the women’s side, it would be quite simple for Crew SC to start their own women’s team and marginalize my efforts.
I was told, quite simply, that Columbus Crew SC (and therefore PSV) had no interest whatsoever in fielding a women’s side. This meeting proved to me that I should invest in the women’s game myself, and that PSV had no interest in doing so.
Over the past five years we have subsequently approached Crew SC many times asking for minimal levels of support. We asked for simple things like announcing our results, sending out a tweet or e-mail to let their fans know there was a women’s side in town. We even held three of our regular season games in MAPFRE Stadium, and we paid a large price to do so. We asked – simply – for a social media mention that we would be playing in their stadium just hours before one of Crew SC’s regular league matches. They would not. We even offered to pay for an ad on one of their in-stadium announcement boards and were told we would have to buy a minimum sponsorship in the neighborhood of $25,000 just to be able to run the ad.
So, you can see why it was quite surprising to me that PSV announced it would be supporting the women’s side in Austin via the Lonestar Soccer Club and its girls’ side.
I offer to you my opinion: That this offer of support for girl’s and women’s soccer is no more than a token offering so that PSV can – as a marketing tool only – claim gender equality. Their offer should be considered quite carefully, as it indicates a willingness to say whatever it takes to get the deal done, even if they never expect to follow through with their offer.
So, please consider carefully this offer of support for the women’s side of the game and see it for what it is: Someone asked PSV “What about the girls?” and only then did they provide a undisclosed offer of support for a co-ed soccer club (which also leads me to wonder what the boys-to-girls ratio is at Lonestar SC). PSV’s history of non-support for the women’s side of the game should speak very loudly within this discussion.
I have one last thought for you to consider: If PSV would attempt to make themselves look like they support the women’s game through this kind of undisclosed offer, what other claims have they made through this process that are – or will prove to be – also suspect?
I thank you for your time in considering what I have written here. I know these decisions are never easy and there are many things to consider. I just know that when offering such a valuable public resource to a community, if it were up to me, I would want to partner with someone I can rely on and trust.
Mark L. Wise
COLUMBUS EAGLES FC, LLC