Columbus Crew SC took a step toward the completion of its new stadium Thursday, when a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the site.
The Crew has been working with city, Franklin County, and Ohio officials on plans for a new stadium in Columbus’s Arena District. Under the concept that has been in the works, the $300 million stadium will be funded as part of public-private endeavor and is expected to anchor a new mixed-use development named Confluence Village.
Local and state officials, MLS commissioner Don Garber, and members of the team’s ownership group were on hand Thursday to mark the groundbreaking ceremony for the stadium. It was a significant occasion for the Crew, which not too long ago appeared poised to relocate from Columbus in search of a replacement for its current home, MAPFRE Stadium. More from the Columbus Dispatch:
“There was a chance this family wasn’t going to continue,” former player and event emcee Kyle Martino said. “This club needed you (the fans) and you stepped up.”
Team ownership and staff, city and state officials and Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber dug into a pile of dirt in front of the stage to signify the beginning of the process that will end in July 2021 with a 20,000-seat stadium.
“We fight for what we believe in and we fight for what is ours,” said Pete Edwards, whose family teamed with Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam to become the Crew’s owners. “And in Columbus we win those fights.”
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 in the Texas capital. 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.
The groundbreaking ceremony was not the only milestone for the Crew’s stadium project this week, as it was also announced that Haslam Sports Group has reached an agreement to purchase a needed parcel of land from Nationwide Realty Investors. The $25.7 million purchase is slated to close later this month. It is expected that the Crew’s new stadium will open in July 2021.
Rendering courtesy Columbus Crew SC.
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