Crew Stadium Approaching Crossroads According to McCullers

Jamie Sabau

The team is approaching decision time on the 15 year old Crew Stadium.

Unlike the dribbles of information that have been forthcoming from the Crew regarding the business side of the team, Mark McCullers released a veratable tidal wave today in a piece by Craig Merz. McCullers talked about USA v. Mexico, the future of Crew Stadium, a bit more on the business side of the team, and a large friendly that the team is looking to secure.

McCullers comments on the upcoming USA v. Mexico match were the least surprising. The club has been very confident of landing the prestiguous match. U.S. Soccer Federation watchers consider this a done deal. Stating the obvious, there is no any other facilty really in the running to host the match of the year.

The Crew President also talked about the viability of Crew Stadium. It is the first soccer specific stadium in the U.S., but that also means it's the oldest. Though only built in 1998, Crew Stadium was a bare bones design and quickly constructed to give the team a home in 1999 while Ohio Stadium underwent repairs. It's starting to show it's age as more modern facilities such as Red Bull Arena, the Philadelphia Union's PPL Park, and the newest jewel, Sporting Park in suburban Kansas City all have top of the line amentities.

Crew Stadium lacks the design elan of other stadiums, but it also has a limited number of suites and other high value ticket inventory.

McCullers also says the time to consider renovating Crew Stadium or building a new facility is approaching. The team has a 25 year lease with the State Expo Center at resonable terms, $50,000 a year, adjusted for inflation every five years. The team also has an option to renew the lease for an additional 25 years. Crew Stadium wouldn't last 50 years without significant investement and retrofitting. With 10 years remaining on the original lease, the team has time to plan a new stadium, but it is finite.

Crew Stadium also lacks naming rights, another thing that McCullers admits won't change soon. The Dispatch's Adam Jardy reported that the Crew were closer to a deal late last year, but that has apparently fallen through. Selling naming rights to a 15 year old building is a very tough job. The promise of a new stadium, perhaps downtown, would make those rights more entising for a prospective partner according to a front office staffer.

It took three tries, but Crew Stadium settled the question of wether the Crew were in town for the long haul. It was a tremendous investement by Lamar Hunt and Hunt Sports Group. HSG now will have to make a similar decision. Is the current stadium situation good enough or not? If not, then the process of getting a new stadium begins and negotations between municipalities and sports teams have only gotten more delecate in the last decade and a half.

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