Columbus Crew SC

Thank you, Anthony Precourt

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.

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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!

#SAVEDTHECREW

Hallelujah! The COLUMBUS Crew are one giant step closer to staying in their rightful home of Central Ohio. It has been almost a full calendar year since Crew fans were shocked at the news of a potential relocation of the franchise to Austin, Texas. Now we have some phenomenal news to celebrate. Cleveland Browns owner, Jimmy Haslam along with a Columbus-based ownership group, are said to be in negotiations with Major League Soccer to purchase the team from current owner/operator, Anthony Precourt. He would then be able to pursue his dream of having a franchise in Austin, which was clearly his plan from the moment he purchased the Crew in 2013.

While nothing is certain or set in stone, this news comes as a big-time move for supporters of the #SaveTheCrew movement. A variety of statements regarding the Crew possibly nearing a deal to stay in Columbus came out today. “We are optimistic about our recent conversations with MLS regarding the potential sale of the operating rights of the Columbus Crew,” stated Columbus Partnership President, Alex Fisher. “While there are many details to be worked out, our alliance is working diligently and collaboratively with the League to keep the Crew in its community. We are very excited about the quiet but deliberate progress that has been made to date and will keep the community updated as the process moves forward.”

A follow up statement from Browns owner, Jimmy Haslam shared that same sentiment:
“We value and appreciate the benefits a professional sports franchise can bring to a community and are hopeful to be a part of the solution to keep the Crew in Columbus. We would invest in a strong infrastructure within the Crew organization so that we can continue our focus and commitment to building a winning Cleveland Browns football team in Northeast Ohio. We look forward to seeing how this process evolves.”

The potential for a new downtown stadium was also mentioned, but no concrete plans are yet in motion. Precourt Sports Ventures, the company name in which Precourt operates, also released a statement but neglected to even mention the Crew potentially staying in Columbus. Making it even more apparent that he had zero interest in the Crew ever staying in Central Ohio. Good riddance to that clown! And good luck Austin dealing with his shenanigans.

According to The Columbus Dispatch, the most likely scenario for the Crew is the Haslam buyer group purchases the MLS rights of Columbus from Major League Soccer, then Precourt transfers his equity in the league to the Austin market. Austin FC would be on the shelf until 2021, which gives them ample time to build a stadium and construct a team from the ground up. In turn, the current players under contract with the Crew would stay in Columbus. Yay, Will Trapp!

COLUMBUS Crew wish list…
- Dump the Crew “SC” moniker and just stick with the tried and true “Columbus Crew”.
- Build a downtown-ish stadium, either near Huntington Park or the current plot of land at Berliner Park.
- Once Greg Berhalter takes over the US Men’s National Team or LA Galaxy, hire either Caleb Porter or former Crew legend Guillermo Barros Schelotto to be head coach.

Now let’s celebrate the goodness that is the COLUMBUS Crew staying in Central Ohio! Get your season tickets, buy your gear, support the team, and keep pushing #SaveTheCrew until it is official that we have #SavedTheCrew.

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#SaveTheCrew

As was the case a few years ago when DC United faced a move to Baltimore, another founding member of Major League Soccer is in jeopardy of being pilfered from its rightful home. Current Columbus Crew owner, Anthony Precourt is lobbying to move the original MLS franchise to Austin, Texas, citing poor business metrics and an uncertain financial future for the club in Central Ohio. The way the league has handled this debacle has been downright shameful. Commissioner Don Garber has preached for years that MLS wants to “build a soccer nation” in the United States. Well in my humble opinion, it is difficult to accomplish such feats by yanking one of the original pillars of the league out from the foundation. 

It could be argued that I am biased in favor of Columbus, given that I was born and raised in Central Ohio. Sure, but the reality is Columbus helped establish that foundation for Major League Soccer and its goal to become a soccer nation. Without a market like Columbus being a strong pillar during the leagues lean years, MLS would likely cease to exist today.

Columbus was the first MLS franchise, built the first soccer-specific stadium, and was even tops in season tickets when the league first launched. Commissioner Garber & Company have forgotten that, instead becoming pathetically infatuated with the fresh new shiny toy that crossed their path in Austin. Mind you, this isn’t to bash on Austin as a potential MLS market. In fact, I have lobbied for several years that MLS would be foolish to not push for Austin to have a franchise. However, it never dawned on me that it would mean losing the Columbus Crew along the way.

We live in a world where everyone and everything has become disposable. We block, ignore, and swipe left anyone and anything that doesn't meet our instant gratification desires. We have forgotten what humanity is in life and in sports. Business is business, yes, but the foundation of any business endeavor is the people behind it. The Crew isn't merely a black & yellow badge. No, the Crew is Columbus. The people of Columbus are intertwined and woven into the crest, jersey, and stadium. Furthermore, the Columbus Crew is intertwined and woven into the fabric of U.S. Soccer. To rip the Crew from Columbus would be a massive and ugly blemish within the federation of the sport we all love.  

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This should be a wake-up call to all MLS teams, especially any of the originals. If the Columbus Crew of all teams could be thrown to the wayside, then who is to say your team won't be next when it behooves the league to do so? Your ongoing support isn't worth a damn if something newer, shinier, and with more bells and whistles comes calling. The Columbus market supported the league when nobody else did, and this how MLS reciprocates? That is shameful. 

Having worked for multiple professional sports teams (including two within MLS), I am acutely aware that often-times team owners are given far too much grief by uninformed and uneducated fan bases. Having said that, I can boastfully say that any owner who assists in pushing this Columbus to Ausitn movement forward should be met with harsh criticism and labeled as greedy. Arthur Blank, you are better than this. Merritt Paulson, you are better than this. Phil Anschutz, you are better than this. Phil Rawlins, you are better than this. Robb Heineman, you are better than this. Clark Hunt, you are better than this and you of all people know this is wrong. Don Garber, you are better than this. 

In the end, the solution is a somewhat simple for MLS; Pressure Precourt to sell the team back to the local community, while promising an expansion opportunity in Austin. If MLS is sincere about building a soccer nation, they need to invest when business metrics aren't at their prime in a market. The solution is to not just rip the roots out when a proven commodity is in a slump. Columbus can certainly still be a viable market; we have seen it over the years. Now it is up to Columbus city officials, its citizens and MLS to re-invest in the team. Can anyone that is emotionally, mentally, or financially invested in the league imagine an MLS without the Columbus Crew? I sure can’t and I hope that day never comes to fruition. #SaveTheCrew
 

Dwight Burgess Interview

20 Years of Major League Soccer: Dwight Burgess
This week I had the honor of interviewing longtime Columbus Crew SC broadcaster, Dwight Burgess. Often times in sports, broadcasters become synonymous with the team they call games for, and this certainly rings true with Columbus Crew SC and Dwight Burgess. Be it that he has been with the franchise since its inaugural season in 1996, he truly is “The Voice of Crew SC” and unofficially Crew SC’s designated team encyclopedia. From Brian McBride to Guillermo Barros Schelotto to Federico Higuaín, Mr. Burgess has narrated the ups, downs, and everything in between of the Columbus franchise.

Dwight is a one of a kind broadcaster, with his trademark voice, passionate delivery, and astute knowledge of the game. His contributions to soccer and MLS are nothing short of remarkable, as he has been a phenomenal ambassador for Crew SC and the league throughout the 20 year span of Major League Soccer. If you have yet to experience the pleasure of watching or listening to a Crew SC broadcast, do yourself a favor and tune in.

In episode 15 of the Crosky on Soccer Podcast, we discuss a myriad of topics in the world of soccer; from his long fruitful career within the sport as a player, broadcaster, and coach to what he would do as MLS commissioner for a day. Dwight also touches on the future of Major League Soccer and FIFA. Now without much further ado, here is my thoroughly entertaining 30 minute conversation with the voice of Columbus Crew SC, Dwight Burgess. Dwight Burgess Interview via YouTube

About Dwight
Dwight Burgess returns for his 20th season with the club, bringing more than three decades of soccer-specific broadcast experience. He has called the action for a variety of national and international soccer events, including XM Satellite Radio’s 2006 FIFA World Cup coverage. He spent two years as the radio play-by-play announcer for Ohio State men’s basketball and hockey. He also has ample soccer coaching experience, having started as the Assistant Head Coach at The Ohio State University for two years before progressing to Capital University. Burgess led Capital’s men’s and women’s programs to six conference championships and three NCAA Tournament berths combined.

Dwight was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in the small town of Centerville, Ohio, Burgess also played in back-to-back Ohio High School Athletic Association Final Four matches while at Centerville High School. He split his college tenure at DePauw University and at University of Dayton. He was twice selected to development camps for the U.S. Men’s National Program for soccer, scored two goals in international friendlies and earned multiple state, regional and national honors in his playing career. Burgess was a member of the champion squad that secured victory at the Ohio State Olympic Games as well.
(Bio from ColumbusCrewSC.com)