With debate over the site’s future unfolding, land surrounding Columbus Crew SC‘s MAPFRE Stadium that is being targeted for a project that includes a sports park will be considered by a task force.
Future facility plans for the Crew call for a new stadium in the city’s Arena District, along with a redevelopment of MAPFRE Stadium and the surrounding land. The MAPFRE Stadium project would consist of a training facility for the Crew, as well as a community sports park with outdoor fields and an indoor facility in the surrounding area (a concept for the site is above).
Thus far, however, the various stakeholders in the process have been unable to come to a consensus over the site’s future. The city is in favor of the training academy/sports park concept, but the property is controlled by the Ohio Expositions Commission board. Expo Center officials have expressed concerns over the plans, which would be developed over existing parking spaces.
To plot the future of the land, Ohio governor Mike DeWine is convening a task force. Exactly what the task force could recommend, and how long it will take to deliver that recommendation, remains unknown. More from the Columbus Dispatch:
The city’s Mapfre proposal had exposed a big “left-hand, right-hand problem,” where various entities were making long-range plans without coordinating with one another, [task force co-chair Mike] Curtin said.
Those entities included Ohio State University, which has a long-range plan to develop 17th Avenue as a gateway to the university from Interstate 71; the Ohio History Connection, the state museum that currently plans to expand its facility; and the Expo Center and State Fair, with an ongoing need for large amounts of parking, Curtin said….
The Mapfre plan would consume 23 additional acres of current parking, transforming it into new private practice fields for the Crew SC, community sports fields, and a new city indoor sports facility. The plan would take away 1,750 parking spots, but 1,550 of those could be replaced, including at a state armory on the other side of I-71 from the fairgrounds, according to plan drawn up by the Ohio Department of Transportation and presented to the Expo Center Commission last month.
Alex Fischer, CEO of the Columbus Partnership, a group representing the largest companies and organizations in Columbus and who has been instrumental in the Crew SC negotiations, said the creation of the task force doesn’t represent a speed bump in the Mapfre plan, noting that DeWine has been a big backer of the effort to save the Crew. The task force is about “how could we make other improvements and make sure we do it in an integrated way,” Fischer said.
As noted, the Crew’s long-term facility plan calls for departing MAPFRE Stadium–which first opened in 1999, but has fallen behind standards of more modern MLS facilities–in favor of a new stadium in the Arena District. Discussion over the new stadium–which would anchor a larger development project–continues, with the Crew hoping to break ground this fall and open the facility during the 2021 season.
Image courtesy City of Columbus.
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