Work Continues to Finalize New Columbus Crew Stadium Plans

Columbus Crew Stadium rendering 5

Though some of the broader details are in place, work continues to finalize plans for a new Columbus Crew SC stadium project–with the public contribution to the project becoming clearer.

Under a plan unveiled late last year, the Crew will depart MAPFRE Stadium in the coming years in favor of a new soccer-specific stadium in the city’s Arena District. The new stadium would anchor a larger development initiative billed as Confluence Village, while the MAPFRE Stadium site would be converted into a Crew training complex with an adjacent sports park.

It is expected that the public-private funding plan will include a combined $140 million in public dollars from the City of Columbus, Franklin County, State of Ohio, and a yet-to-be created authority that will own both the new stadium and the redeveloped MAPFRE Stadium/sports park. The $140 million covers costs related to the new facility and the MAPFRE Stadium project, but the parties are currently working to finalize those plans. The key date is August 15, which is the deadline for finalizing the funding plan as well as a property acquisition agreement for Nationwide Realty-owned land needed for the new stadium.

For right now, Crew investors are confident that an agreement will be finalized, clearing the way for the new stadium project to break ground in October. More from the Columbus Dispatch:

The city of Columbus and Franklin County, public-funding partners in the deal along with the state of Ohio and a yet-to-be-created stadium authority, “agree to use best efforts to cause” the properties to change hands for the project, the draft agreement states.

But Dave Jenkins, executive vice president of Haslam Sports Group, said Monday that “considering how fast we’ve been moving,” it’s remarkable to have a deal in principle already. “We are on track to have shovel in the ground this October in the Arena District,” Jenkins said.

The stadium itself, proposed on a site a few blocks west of the Huntington Park baseball stadium, would cost $244.9 million, including city infrastructure work but not including the cost of acquiring the land. Most of the site is owned by Nationwide Reality Investors, a division of Columbus-based Nationwide.

The team must have a land-purchase agreement with Nationwide Realty by Aug. 15 unless it exercises options to extend the deadline by up to a year. Nationwide Realty officials couldn’t be reached Monday for comment on the status of negotiations.

It is expected that the city’s contribution will be $50 million, with $45 million from Franklin County, $20 million from Ohio, and $25 million in bonding from the authority backed by tax revenue from the development surrounding the new stadium. The new stadium is targeted for a July 2021 opening, as was revealed recently by the Crew.

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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August Publications