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"Modell Law" Passed After Browns Move In '96 Could Get First Test In Case Involving Columbus Crew

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The lawsuit filed by the state over the possible move of Columbus’ major league professional soccer franchise could be the first test of a law that’s more than twenty years old.  The suit involves the 1996 measure passed after owner Art Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore.

The "Modell Law" says a team that receives taxpayer support can’t move without getting permission of its home city or giving six months’ notice to give the community time to potentially buy the team. Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington) said the potential move of the Columbus Crew to Texas could show the law works and doesn’t conflict with federal or state laws. “If this law is upheld in Ohio, it will produce a road map for other states on how to deal with professional sports teams that are going to seek the public money to subsidize themselves but want to then later pack up and go somewhere else,” Duffy said.

The lawsuit says Crew owner Anthony Precourt has received millions in benefits such parking upgrades and tax exempt land for the Crew’s stadium.