A planned new Columbus Crew SC stadium will not be completed by the start of the 2021 MLS season, with club officials currently targeting a summer opening.
The Crew is planning to open a new soccer-specific stadium in the coming years. Located at a site just west of Huntington Park–the home of Minor League Baseball’s Columbus Clippers (Class AAA; International League)–the new Crew stadium has been projected for a 2021 opening, with the facility to anchor a larger mixed-use development initiative known as Confluence Village.
A 2021 stadium opening is the goal for the Crew, but club president Tim Bezbatchenk says construction will not be completed by the start of MLS season in the spring. Instead the facility is expected to open in the middle of the season, with July 2021 probably being the earliest possible completion date. More from the Columbus Dispatch:
“There’s zero chance we’re going to be opening at the beginning of 2021,” Bezbatchenko told The Dispatch. “That’s just not — it’ll happen middle of the season. We’re going to be in the summer, probably July 2021 at the earliest.”
Previous reports listed the 2021 season as the approximate date for when the new Downtown stadium would open. This is the most concrete opening date the club has offered since new owners Dr. Pete Edwards and Jimmy and Dee Haslam unveiled plans for the new stadium when they announced the purchase of the Crew last year.
For the status of the new stadium right now, Bezbatchenko said there’s still some paperwork that needs to be finished with the city of Columbus and Franklin County. But he expects the groundbreaking for the new stadium either late this summer or early in the fall.
It is not unprecedented in MLS for new stadiums to open during the summer months. Last season, D.C. United opened Audi Field in July, while Sporting KC debuted at what was then known as Livestrong Sporting Park (now Children’s Mercy Park) in June 2011. The Crew’s new venue will serve as a replacement for MAPFRE Stadium, the soccer-specific facility at the Ohio State Fairgrounds that has been the club’s home since 1999.
Planning for the new stadium follows a development that saw Anthony Precourt explore a move of the Crew to Austin, only for a solution to emerge to keep the team in Columbus while allowing him to proceed with plans for Austin. Jimmy and Dee Haslam–owners of the NFL’s Cleveland Browns–and the Columbus-based Edwards family bought into MLS and received operating rights to Columbus, and will be carrying out the plans for a new stadium. Precourt, meanwhile, remained an MLS investor and received rights to Austin, where Austin FC will begin play in 2021 as the league’s 27th team.
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