On Tuesday, Franklin County commissioners approved the county’s end of a Columbus Crew SC stadium plan, allowing the concept to take another step forward.
As part of an ongoing effort to keep the club in Columbus, city, state, and county officials have been working to finalize plans that would lead to a new stadium. The project calls for a $230 million facility in the city’s Arena District, to be surrounded by a mixed-use development dubbed Confluence Village. That would be part of a scenario in which a group led by Jimmy and Dee Haslam–owners of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns–and the Columbus-based Edwards family buy into MLS and receive operating rights to Columbus. Meanwhile, current Crew investor-operator Anthony Precourt–who had sought to move the club to Austin–would remain an MLS investor, allowing him to move forward with plans for a new Austin stadium down the road.
With their vote unanimous vote on Tuesday, Franklin County commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that outlines the responsibilities of the parties involved in the project. Under those terms, the county will contribute roughly $45 million of the development costs. More from the Columbus Dispatch:
Franklin County will cover about $45 million of the development costs, via annual payments of $2.5 million starting in 2020. County Administrator Kenneth Wilson said the agreement “represents a transformational economic-development opportunity” that would create jobs and establish a community sports park and new business, residential and office spaces.
“And (it will) secure a very important home team for future generations to enjoy and take pride in,” Wilson told the commissioners. “This resolution before you truly represents what’s best about Columbus in relation to public-private partnerships.”
The commissioners’ vote came about a week after Columbus City Council approved its part of the deal, and it marked the culmination of more than a year of efforts by local groups and officials to ensure that the soccer team remains in Ohio’s capital city.
“This plan brings hundreds of millions of dollars of private-sector capital to our community,” Alex Fischer, president and CEO of the Columbus Partnership, told the commissioners.
Officials have been working to complete a deal by year’s end in order to satisfy an MLS deadline. Should the new stadium plans move forward, it would give the Crew a replacement for MAPFRE Stadium–their home at the Ohio State Fairgrounds since 1999. It is envisioned that, once a new stadium opens, the MAPFRE Stadium site will be redeveloped into a sports park that includes community and tournament fields, as well as MLS training space.
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