City Approves Contribution to Columbus Crew Stadium Project

Columbus Crew Stadium rendering 2

A funding piece for a Columbus Crew stadium project that includes a new venue and MAPFRE Stadium redevelopment is moving forward, as Columbus officials approved a $50 million contribution Monday.

Future facility plans for the Crew have been taking shape, with the club set to depart MAPFRE Stadium in the coming years in favor of a new soccer-specific stadium in the city’s Arena District. The new venue is slated to anchor a larger development initiative billed as Confluence Village, while the MAPFRE Stadium site is set be converted into a Crew training complex with an adjacent sports park.

On Monday, the Columbus City Council approved a $50 million contribution to the project that includes the new stadium and the redevelopment of the MAPFRE Stadium site. The city’s share accounts for a good portion of the overall public funding contribution to the project, so Monday’s approval marked a notable step forward. One major area that still has to be resolved, however, is property acquisition, with additional land needed for both construction of the new stadium and planned work at the MAPFRE Stadium site. More from the Columbus Dispatch:

On the centerpiece project, the team and the landowner, Nationwide Realty Investors, a division of Nationwide, are still locked in negotiations for the new stadium west of Huntington Park baseball stadium, said Steve Schoeny, the city’s development director.

Phil Dangerfield, a vice president of operations with Crew SC owner Haslam Sports Group, which also owns the Cleveland Browns, had no comment on the negotiations as he left the City Council chambers Monday following the council’s unanimous sign-off on the city’s $50 million contribution. The entire project is currently projected to total $295.4 million, split about 50-50 between public and private sources….

The development agreement between the project’s partners specifies that city money can’t be used to build the actual stadium but can be used to buy land needed for it.

Also still up in the air is land needed for an expanded Crew SC practice facility and city sports park at Mapfre, which would expand into parking lots currently owned by the Ohio Expo Center — site of the State Fair. A fair official has said his board was never consulted about the project before it was announced in early December, and the fair can’t afford to give up any parking for its events.

In addition to the city’s $50 million, it has been expected that the overall public contribution to the project will include $45 million from Franklin County, $20 million from Ohio, and $25 million in bonding from a newly created authority backed by tax revenue from development surrounding the upcoming stadium. The new stadium is targeted for a July 2021 opening, as was revealed last month 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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