Crew owner Precourt answers questions about the club's future
OCT 30, 2013 4:27p ET
But despite Precourt's lack of free time, the Crew owner-operator took a moment to answer some of the questions that Crew fans have been asking, and shed light on topics from personnel to the potential of changing the team's colors. He even gave his opinion on the Crew's fiercest rival.
Are there plans to change the name, colors or badge?
When he was introduced as the team owner, Precourt was asked whether he wanted to keep the team's branding (colors, name and badge) the same. He said that he liked the name and colors, but that the badge seemed dated. He gave an even more definitive answer this time.
"The colors are absolutely 100,000 percent staying the same," he said. "It's black and gold and always will be. I need to clarify; that was a misquote somewhere. The colors have never been under review and will always be black and gold... We're the Columbus Crew, our colors are the same, we're just really evaluating the badge."
But moving past the colors, branding changes may be afoot after the team's 2014 jerseys with Adidas can be redesigned to reflect any alterations.
"We are thinking about our identity as a club; we think it could be refreshed. We don't know if it necessarily resonates what Columbus is really all about," Precourt said. "We're in that process of evaluating what we might do to refresh the brand. Based on how properties work with Adidas and Major League Soccer, it takes time. We just can't do anything until the start of the 2015 season when we roll out our new kits for 2015. I wish it could happen sooner."
Will (and can) the team sign another Designated Player?
As big names are tossed around by teams like Montreal, New York and Toronto, Crew fans continue to clamor for another Designated Player to add to the team and compliment current DP Federico Higuain. While Precourt admitted it was a challenging task with the salary cap, he seemed confident that if the next head coach identified a candidate, it would be possible.
"Everything is on the table. We want to be a stronger club next year. We're always evaluating our roster and thinking about how we can improve," he said. "We're tight against the cap. And a DP, unfortunately, the salary goes to the cap, and it's a significant salary. So we've got some work to do to be able to make that fit. I'm open to it. But first thing is first: hire our new head coach. And then I'll hear from our next head coach what kind of player he'd be looking to add to the roster."
What changes are in store for Crew Stadium?
While it's still too early for Precourt to reveal any of his plans of renovating or altering Crew Stadium, he made it clear that changes were in the works, starting with improved seating in the east to match the seats (rather than bleachers) in the west side of the stadium.
"We're putting in premium seating in the offseason so that the east side of the stadium will be more comfortable to sit in," he said. "There are a number of initiatives we're thinking about in terms of the stadium, and it's probably too early for me to comment, but it's obviously something we're thinking about and have plans for."
As those decisions are made, Precourt said he has a few other MLS stadiums in mind.
"Everyone would look to Sporting Kansas City, Sporting Park is the best facility in the country for soccer. I also have a lot of fondness for Portland's facility (Jeld-Wen Field), and I also like BBVA in Houston."
Will the team continue to focus on signing academy players?
With homegrown signings such as Ben Speas, Matt Lampson, Chad Barson and Wil Trapp playing huge roles in the team's season, fans asked if there will be a continuing commitment to grooming talent in the Crew youth system and signing homegrown players.
"We'd like to continue to sign academy players and players of the quality that we have on our squad. I think we've done a very good job compared to our peers in the MLS on that front," Precourt said. "We have plans to really grow and improve our academy and our youth development program. So that's a huge priority for us, as well as for Major League Soccer. It's very much one of our key missions over the next few years."
What can fans do to help Precourt improve the Crew brand? What does the new Crew owner need fans to do?
"Care. Engage. Show up for games on a regular basis," he said immediately.
Precourt wasted no time in answering this question. He made it clear that what he needs from the fans are people in the seats, and a packed and energetic Crew Stadium each week.
"We should have sellouts for all 17 home games. That will take us a mile, just having the home atmosphere," he said. "Home-field advantage is so key in Major League Soccer with the parity. If we get the points at home, we're going to be a playoff team year in and year out. How do we get the points at home? The fans motivate the players to play their best."
Are there plans to introduce a supporters' bar in the stadium?
Fans have expressed a desire to have a supporters' pub or bar inside of Crew Stadium, which some other MLS clubs have introduced, and sites like the Upper 90 Club have been suggested. But while Precourt wouldn't rule out the possibility, he said it wasn't something that he had considered thus far.
"That's not something I've done a lot of homework on yet," he said. "The concept of a bar sounds great, I don't want to be the party pooper. I just don't know from a financial standpoint if that's good business for us."
Who is the main Crew rival?
This one seemed easy, even for a brand new owner.
"The Chicago Fire."
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