New Crew Stadium Plans Hailed For Downtown Locale, Intimate Feel
The Crew's new $230M downtown soccer stadium plan is the "linchpin of a proposal" being made to MLS by Browns co-Owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam and Dr. Peter Edwards Jr. to "buy the Crew and keep the team in Columbus," according to a front-page piece by Bill Bush of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. Officials said that the new Crew owners would invest a total of $645M to "buy the team" for an estimated $150M; "build the new stadium and surrounding commercial and residential buildings; and remodel the team’s current home at Mapfre Stadium." The city of Columbus and Franklin County are pledging $50M each "over 30 years to be managed by a community authority to support site development and infrastructure." City officials said that city money "would not go toward construction of the stadium itself." The proposed multilevel, 20,000-seat stadium would include 30 suites and loge boxes and 1,900 "club seats," with an "artist’s rendering envisioning all of the seats covered by a roof but the playing field open to the elements." The stadium would be "surrounded by seven low-rise riverfront residential, office and parking structures on a total of 33 acres." Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer said that the entire deal "must be completed by the end of the year to meet an MLS deadline, so that the Crew and the league can plan for next season, which begins with training in February" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 12/7).
PERSEVERANCE PAYS OFF: THE ATHLETIC's Andrew King wrote the Crew managed to come up with a "well-received stadium plan that incorporates the team’s fans, the history of the sport and the personality of Columbus into one project." And they "did it in four weeks." If Mapfre Stadium "isn’t close enough to Columbus’ city center" for MLS, this new stadium "should do the trick." The spot chosen for the new stadium "isn’t close to downtown, it is downtown." Placing the new stadium in the arena district "puts it in a high-income neighborhood that’s already known as a place central Ohioans are willing to spend money." In the new stadium plan, fans are "front and center." A new supporters section will be a "steeper, larger section of 3,200 safe-standing seats." Some may be "surprised by plans for the new stadium to seat just 20,000." However, a stadium of even 25,000 -- let alone 30,000 or 40,000 -- "might have been counterintuitive to the goals of new ownership." Creating sellouts, waiting lists and general demand for seats at the new Crew stadium will be an "excellent way to keep the team in the news for positive metrics" (THEATHLETIC.com, 12/6).
CITY PRIDE: A COLUMBUS DISPATCH editorial states that from "refusing to settle for a possible expansion club to re-envisioning the future of Mapfre Stadium as a community sports park, Columbus should be proud of how this story promises to end." The city is "fortunate to have a new local investor group." Edwards and the Haslams and their families have "stepped up to provide what Fischer called Columbus’ 'critical missing ingredient' -- local ownership that can ensure the Crew stays in Columbus" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 12/7). In Columbus, Michael Arace writes under the header, "Crew Latest Example Of How Columbus Gets Things Done" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 12/7).