SBD/August 23, 2013/Franchises

New MLS Crew Owner Looking For Stadium Overhaul, Changes To Club's Image

Crew Stadium has seen a slight gain in attendance this season
The MLS Crew currently have the perception of being a "small-market club mired in MLS 1.0," and in order to change that, new team Chair Anthony Precourt and his team "will have to work harder, spend more money and take more chances," according to Brian Straus of SI.com. There is an "acknowledged sense that the Crew lack the stature now enjoyed by other clubs." Crew President & GM Mark McCullers said of this notion, "That drives me insane. What are we, chopped liver? We've done a lot more than clubs that have that perception. Maybe it's because we haven't positioned ourselves that way. It hasn't been our style to beat our own drum. That wasn't [late Crew Founder Lamar Hunt's] style. ... There's a lot of great things going on, but we don't feel like we get the respect and recognition we should. Maybe that's spilled over into our club a little bit." Meanwhile, Straus notes Crew Stadium opened in '99 and "paved the way for a construction boom that offered clubs the opportunity to establish roots and revenue streams." What the stadium "lacks in character it makes for in significance." However, that tradition "hasn't done much for the club's Q rating," as attendance has "failed to surpass 15,000 per game every season" since '07. This year's figure of 15,249 "represents an improvement but still ranks 14th" in MLS.

A NEW CREW: Crew Stadium "needs more than corporate money," and Precourt "knows that and already is working on improvements." He will "start by spending around $200,000 to replace bleachers with 2,400 seats on the stadium's east side and said he's committed to 'benchmarking ourselves with our peers in MLS.'" Precourt: "I think if we were to do it all over again, if we'd been in Columbus since the beginning, being closer to downtown in an urban environment is what's most important. Crew Stadium isn't a destination place right now." McCullers said that the Crew is "looking to 'accelerate the conversation' with the city about either upgrading the fairground site (there are 11 years left on the club's lease) or finding a new one." Precourt also is "targeting the team logo" as something to change. He added, "The name and the colors are great. The crest, it's one of my highest priorities." Precourt said that he "intends to reach out 'to the top 40-50 companies in Columbus'" to try and establish ties. McCullers said of Precourt, "He's energetic, he's young. This is the first property that he's been involved with, so he's excited about all of those things" (SI.com, 8/23).
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Columbus Crew, Franchises, MLS

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