Columbus Crew SC hosted a MLS playoff game on Tuesday, and many supporters weighed in on the ongoing discussion of relocating the club to Austin.
Since reports surfaced that owner Anthony Precourt is exploring a move of the franchise to Austin, questions have been raised about the future of Crew SC. While Precourt has maintained that no final decision in regard to a move have been made, he has also noted that a new downtown stadium will be crucial to keeping the team in Columbus. A new stadium in either Columbus or Austin would replace the franchise’s current home, MAPFRE Stadium, which opened as MLS’s first soccer-specific stadium in 1999 but has since fallen behind the standards set by the league’s newer facilities.
On Tuesday, Crew SC hosted a playoff match against New York City FC. The contest resulted in a 4-1 win for the home team, and an announced crowd of 14,416 was on hand for the victory. During the evening, many supporters took the opportunity to make the plea to keep the franchise in Columbus. More from The Columbus Dispatch:
“This has been one of the better atmospheres all season,” said Andy Karsten, a season-ticket holder from Upper Arlington. “I’m glad people turned out in the cold.”
Tuesday’s game was the Crew’s first at home since Precourt Sports Ventures, the team’s San Francisco-based ownership group, stunned Columbus two weeks ago with word of a possible relocation, strongly implying the move will happen if the city does not build the team a Downtown stadium.
The news sent Crew fans to the canvas, but only for a second. They rose and rallied behind a movement — #SaveTheCrew — that saw more than 2,000 supporters gather Oct. 22 at City Hall before spreading nationally, across U.S. borders and even overseas.
The sea of Crew fans in Mapfre, meanwhile, let the soccer world know it would not let the team leave without a fight. Dozens of “Save The Crew” banners filled the Nordecke and “Save The Crew chants” filled the stadium. Before the game, a plane flew over the stadium pulling a banner that read “KEEP THE CREW IN COLUMBUS – savethecrew.com.” At Gate 3, where signs and banners had to be submitted for inspection, only a few were turned away for profanity and, as one gate worker put it, “bashing the owner.”
Crew SC is currently slated to continue playing at MAPFRE Stadium for 2018.
Photo by Matthew Bernhardt, via flickr.com.
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