Having experienced a roller coaster ride of emotions since the news broke that Anthony Precourt was exploring the possibility of moving the Crew to Austin, Texas, the last 14 months have been a long and tumultuous ride for central Ohio soccer fans. A year of uncertainty has only recently become much more clear and temperate.
Nearly a year to the day that it seemed all but inevitable that the Crew would be stolen from the market, some favorable news was delivered. Cleveland Browns owner, Jimmy Haslam, proclaimed in October of this year, his intentions to purchase the Crew and permanently keep them in Columbus. While nothing was official at the time, and still no formal announcement has yet been made, for all intents and purposes the purchase is a done deal. Behind the scenes a great deal of financial T’s are being crossed and business I’s are being dotted. An official proclamation is expected in the coming days.
A little more than a month after that declaration, it was announced that once a new downtown stadium is assembled in 2021, current Crew Stadium (I’ll never refer to it as MAPFRE Stadium) will be re-purposed to be a community sports park. The sports park will feature indoor basketball courts, a full-size indoor soccer field, numerous outdoor sports grounds, two MLS practice fields and additional green space. The park will also house the Crew's new training facility.
A mere 24 hours after the re-purposing announcement, the exact locale of the future Crew Stadium was reported. Mister Haslam and local investors teamed up to design a new state-of-the-art $230 million soccer stadium, to be erected in a new developing downtown district called Confluence Village. The district will consist of a 20,000-seat soccer stadium, a community greenspace and new commercial/residential units. The overall estimated cost is pushing $650 million, which includes purchasing the rights of the Crew franchise, constructing the new stadium and developing the surrounding area.
To further solidify that the Crew would remain in central Ohio, earlier this week Major League Soccer announced the dates of each clubs 2019 home opener. What seemed like an improbability just a mere year ago, was now a guarantee. The Crew will kickoff the 2019 season versus longtime Eastern Conference foe, New York Red Bulls on March 2nd. Yes, the Columbus Crew are here to stay!
With the array of grand news and given that today is Christmas Eve, it only makes sense to say thanks to those deserving of such sentiment. I would like to extend a heartfelt 'Thank you' to anyone and everyone who kept the #SaveTheCrew dream alive.
Thank you to Jimmy Haslam and family for stepping up financially, securing the Crews future.
Thank you to the leaders of the #SaveTheCrew movement. Your never say die attitude rallied the community.
Thank you, fellow MLS supporters, for coming together and supporting the #SaveTheCrew movement from afar.
Thank you to Alex Fischer for pushing the #SaveTheCrew initiative within the business sector.
Thank you, Dr. Pete Edwards for being the figurehead and ongoing team connection.
Thank you, Alejandro Moreno for being a prominent and boisterous soccer pundit who kept pushing the #SaveTheCrew narrative at every chance.
Thank you to Crew alumni’s, Kyle Martino and Dante Washington for spearheading the Crew Legends Reunion game back in October.
Thank you, Austin soccer fans. Thank you for taking that wolf in sheeps clothing off our hands.
And last but certainly not least, thank you, Anthony Precourt. Inadvertently or not, your shameful business tactics brought Columbus soccer fans, local businesses, and city leadership together. You made our soccer community more bonded, stronger, and cohesive. Maybe as a soccer market we became a bit complacent. Perhaps we took the Crew for granted. Often in life, we fail to appreciate a person, place or thing until it is gone. Unfortunately, there are times where hitting rock bottom is ideal and needed. Thank you for bringing us back together by attempting to tear us apart. Thank you for putting the spotlight back on our market, allowing Columbus to once again shine bright within the U.S. Soccer sphere. Maybe, just maybe you are the best-worst thing to have ever happened to our fine city. Thank you, Anthony!
Let’s go Crew!