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Attorney General and law named after Art Modell could 'Save the Crew'

Columbus Crew fans show their support for their team as they play against Toronto FC during the first half of an MLS Eastern Conference championship soccer match Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. The Crew's owner has recently threatened to move the team after the 2018 season. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

There's a new, state-level twist in the fight to keep the Crew SC in Columbus. It is a matter that may be settled in court, if one state Representative gets his way.

Representative Mike Duffey says if a pro-sports team uses taxpayer money, they have to get approval from the state to leave.

“It startedwith a fan. A fan said there is a little known provision we can refer to it as the 'Art Modell Law’ that was passed in 1996 in the state of Ohio,” said Republican Representative Mike Duffey of Worthington.

Duffey said this law was created to stop professional sports teams, who are supported bytaxpayers, from moving to another state. It came after Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore.

"It's state law, Ohio Revised Code 9.6.7 and it says that a tax supported facility may not move unless two things happen: you get the permission of the city that you're located in - which requires permission of the city of Columbus - which I don't think that's going to happen; or you have to give 6-month’s notice and for the opportunity of that city or its inhabitants in the area to purchase the team,” said Rep. Duffey.

Now, Duffey is asking Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to consider legal action against the team.

"I've looked into it very seriously,” said Duffey. “I've had the Ohio Legislative Service Commission research it and I think there's a strong case to be made."

Duffey said since the stadium is on state land, it means the team is exempt from paying property taxes. He also says in 2009 the team received $5 million of taxpayer money to renovate the parking lot.

The Columbus Crew SC released thisstatement, “Precourt Sports Ventures has seen the public remarks made by State RepresentativeMike Duffey and PSV will not have further comment at this time.”

The attorney general's office ultimately has to decide if it’s a good case or not to pursue a lawsuit.

We haven’t heard back from that office yet.

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