Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Columbus Future Front and Centre in Commissioner's State of the League Address

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Columbus Future Front and Centre in Commissioner's State of the League Address

Article excerpt

Columbus future topic of MLS discussion

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TORONTO - Major League Soccer prefaced the annual commissioner's annual state of the league address with news of increased player salary investment.

And while Don Garber talked up successful expansion, an improved player base and the league's growing television and attendance numbers, he found himself being drawn back to the trouble spot of Columbus time and time again on the eve of the MLS Cup final between Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders.

Anthony Precourt, whose Precourt Sports Ventures has owned the Columbus team since 2013, has said the franchise expects to move to Austin, Texas, following the 2018 season unless a new, privately financed stadium is built in downtown Columbus.

"Like every professional sport league, we never want to relocate a team," Garber said. "And while no decision has been made to relocate the Crew, MLS is supportive of the Precourt Sports Ventures efforts to explore their options in Austin."

Garber urged the Columbus mayor and city leaders to rethink their decision to link continuing talks to a demand that the team ownership discontinue discussions with Austin.

"That's just not possible at this point. So the ball's in the city's court," said Garber.

The increased roster investment comes in the form of what the league calls targeted allocation money, a tool for teams to sign elite talent outside the three designated players allowed per team.

It can be used to reduce the charge against the salary cap of players whose salary and acquisition cost are more than the maximum salary budget charge (US$480,625) but less than $1.5 million. The minimum the salary charge can be bought down to is $150,000.

An example is Toronto FC's Spanish playmaker Victor Vazquez, whose salary was listed at $700,000 this season.

Clubs can use TAM for other uses, including signing a new homegrown player.

Each club will receive $1.2 million of targeted allocation money -- the same amount as this year -- in both 2018 and 2019. Teams can use the 2018 and 2019 amounts at the same time if so desired.

The league has also, for the first time, given teams the chance to spend an additional $2. …

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