Columbus Crew won't give refunds for 2018 season tickets amid move plans

Columbus Crew SC will not give refunds to season-ticket holders for what might be the team's last season in Ohio before a possible move to Austin, Texas.

Returning season-ticket holders had already been charged at least part of the amount of their ticket plan for next season when club owner Anthony Precourt said this week that he would need to see a "dramatic change" to keep the team in Columbus beyond 2018.

Fans who did not want to automatically renew their tickets had to opt out before Sept. 18, according to the membership plan laid out on the club's website.

A club spokesperson confirmed to ESPN FC on Thursday that no refunds would be available for the funds already collected by the club for the 2018 season. The refund policy was first reported by local TV station NBC4.

"There are not going to be refunds issued for season tickets for the 2018 season," the Crew spokesperson said. "We are playing at MAPFRE Stadium in 2018."

Season-ticket holders could have elected to pay their entire bill for 2018 before Sept. 15 of this year, or choose from a three-month, six-month or monthly payment plan. According to the club's website, the deadline for the second installment on the monthly plan would have been just hours before the news of the potential move broke on Monday night.

Columbus' website says: "In the event you fail to make any timely required payments, Crew SC reserves the right to either (a) withhold your tickets for upcoming events until payment is made and the account is in good standing or (b) terminate the Membership, with any payments made prior to the termination date forfeited by you."

Precourt has been frustrated at the team's inability to increase revenue streams in terms of overall attendance, sponsorship and season tickets. With one week to go in the regular season, Crew SC's attendance ranks 20th out of 22 teams.

The owner intends to explore concurrent paths towards a new stadium in both Columbus and Austin -- a plan that has the support of Major League Soccer -- but Columbus mayor Andy Ginther said the Ohio city will not support public funding for a new venue.

In a letter to season-ticket holders on Tuesday, Precourt expressed optimism for the 2018 season, but admitted concerns over the Crew SC's long-term future.

"Although the club continues to address a series of historic challenges related to our ongoing business operations, we have specific concerns as we strive to realize our full ambition of becoming a standard-bearer in Major League Soccer," his statement said.

"The facts and findings surrounding the health of the club dictate that we urgently expand and explore all options to preserve the long-term sustainability of the club -- including remaining in Columbus."