Wednesday marked a turning point for Columbus Crew SC, as a new investor-operator group backed by the Haslam and Edwards families was introduced.
In a move that effectively prevents the Crew from relocating to Austin, the Haslam-Edwards group has bought into MLS and received operating rights to Columbus, where it will move forward with plans for a new stadium (rendering above). Meanwhile, Anthony Precourt–who had previously announced that he was exploring a move of the Crew to Austin–remains an MLS investor, and is proceeding with plans for Austin FC and a new stadium at the city’s McKalla Place.
The new Columbus Crew investor-operator group was represented by Dee Haslam and Dr. Peter J. Edwards at Wednesday’s event, during which they outlined their plans for the organization. That vision includes planning for a new 20,000-seat, soccer-specific stadium, which the Haslam-Edwards hopes to begin building this summer in anticipation of a 2021 opening. More from the Columbus Dispatch:
The team’s new owners now will turn their attention to building a stadium as the centerpiece of a larger development near the Arena District. Haslam said the team hopes to break ground on the stadium this summer to meet its deadline of opening for the 2021 season.
“I think we’re going as fast as we can go. I think it’s just a process, and we’ll get there,” she said.
Under plans released late last year, the stadium would occupy a site just west of Huntington Park and the Arena District that at one time was earmarked for a casino. Nationwide Realty Investors owns most of the property where the stadium and surrounding mixed-use development are envisioned.
Edwards told The Dispatch that “the details are evolving” on whether the team’s owners will acquire the property or work out another structure with Nationwide Realty Investors at that site.
In a reflection of modern MLS trends, the new Crew stadium is expected to anchor surrounding development while tying into the Arena District–an area of the city that already features the Columbus Clippers’ Huntington Park and Nationwide Arena, the latter of which is home to the NHL’s Blue Jackets. The new stadium will replace MAPFRE Stadium, the team’s home since 1999, and allow the MAPFRE Stadium site to be redeveloped into a sports park that includes training space for the Crew.
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