In an effort to keep Columbus Crew SC in the city, the leader of a Columbus organization is proposing a new downtown soccer stadium.
Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt is exploring a move of his club to Austin, where city officials recently approved a resolution to evaluate public land that could be used for a privately-financed MLS stadium. Precourt has previously stated that no final decision has been made regarding the team’s future, but has noted that a replacement for MAPFRE Stadium will be needed to keep Crew SC in Columbus.
To bring discussion of keeping Crew SC to the forefront, Columbus Foundation president and CEO Doug Kridler unveiled a concept for a new soccer-specific stadium. His plan calls for a 21,000-seat venue in downtown Columbus, with the site located between North 5th Street and 6th Street, north of Mount Vernon Avenue and south of Interstate 670.
Under Kridler’s plan, the Columbus Downtown Development Corp.would spend $500,000 (potentially covered by a Columbus Foundation grant) for a six-month option on the site. The city would contribute funds for a new parking structure and site improvements, while the state would commit $5 million for a Columbus Children’s Theater at the stadium location. In addition, BrewDog brewery would head a crowdfunding campaign to buy 10% of Crew SC.
As for the stadium, Kridler proposes that its cost be covered by a combination of Precourt Sports Ventures and the extension of part of a temporary Franklin County sales tax that is scheduled to expire in 2019. Some county officials expressed skepticism about extending the tax, but Kridler said that he hopes his proposal shows a desire to generate ideas for retaining Crew SC. More from The Columbus Dispatch:
Precourt Sports Ventures, which owns the team, would commit to cover the cost of the stadium not covered by the one-eighth of a penny sales tax over three years. Based on what the county has said that tax now raises, it would generate about $90 million for the stadium. Kridler also wants the business community to boost season-ticket sales by 4,000 by 2020. Season-ticket sales run at about 10,000 now.
“While this has not been vetted, or run through the traps, hopefully this will allow the national media to say, ’Well, there are ideas floating out there … ideas that have some merit,” Kridler said.
“It is helpful to use our most-creative selves to seeking solutions to complex problems,” he said.
Kridler also wants to better connect the proposed stadium site to nearby amenities, including two sports venues in Nationwide Arena–home to the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets–and Huntington Park, the ballpark for baseball’s Columbus Clippers (Class AAA; International League). Crew SC has played at MAPFRE Stadium since 1999, and the venue has fallen behind the standards set by some of MLS’s more recent soccer-specific facilities.
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