Amidst discussion of a potential move to Austin, Columbus Crew SC is detailing some of the current financial challenges its faces at MAPFRE Stadium.
Last October, it was revealed that Crew SC owner Anthony Precourt is exploring a move of the club to Austin. Discussions in the Texas city have been unfolding since, though a relocation is not final and uncertainty remains as to what site the club could pursue for the construction of a new Austin MLS stadium.
For now, the future of the club is up in the air, but Crew SC officials are stressing that their current situation is not financially sustainable. During a recent event, Crew SC president of business operations Andy Loughnane indicated that continuing to operate at MAPFRE Stadium is not in the club’s best interest. In addition, he noted the club’s concerns that the Columbus business community would not support a new stadium in the city. More from The Austin American-Statesman:
“I do not think that continuing operations here is going to be best for the club,” Loughnane said. “Now, this (stadium) is nostalgic in many ways, but it also needs to serve a function which is a long-term growth of the club. We think that’s elsewhere, not here.”….
Loughnane said PSV worked with a real-estate developer in Columbus in 2017 to identify potential sites. The search was narrowed to three finalists in July 2017, including a 40-acre parcel of land he referred to as the “old casino” site in the Arena District now owned by Nationwide Realty; a site in Franklinton (adjacent to downtown) and the previously reported site owned by Abbott Laboratories.
Part of that process, Loughnane said, was a survey distributed in fall 2016 to 37 executives organized by the Columbus Partnership around the same time as a public survey that asked about potential stadium sites.
Businesses in Columbus were asked if they would be willing to pitch in “founding-level sponsorship” for a new stadium. Loughnane said responses included “Columbus Crew SC is not major league,” “Ohio State is everything” and “(NHL) Blue Jackets are major league.”
According to the American-Statesman, Loughnane indicated that Crew SC needs to show $350 million in guaranteed revenue in order to move forward with the construction of a new stadium (estimated at $175 million) and training academy ($25 million). In addition, the club needs a franchise valuation of $150 million. The report also indicated that Loughnane stated that the team’s stadium naming-rights deal is the lowest in MLS.
Crew SC has played at MAPFRE Stadium since its opening in 1999, and has called in Columbus its home since MLS’s inaugural season in 1996.
Image courtesy MAPFRE Stadium.
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