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City of Columbus approves funding for new Crew stadium, practice facility

Columbus to provide $50 million as part of deal to keep team in town.

The hastily unveiled plans to keep Columbus Crew SC in Columbus passed a major milestone on Monday night as Columbus City Council voted unanimously to approve their part of the deal to keep the soccer team in town.

The vote confirms that the City accepts the memorandum of understanding between the city, county, and the prospective new ownership of Crew SC, the Edwards Company and Jimmy and Dee Haslam. The City of Columbus now pledges $50 million towards the redevelopment of MAPFRE Stadium as a Community Sports Park and the infrastructure to build Confluence Village, where a new downtown stadium for the team and business and residential properties were proposed on the west end of Nationwide Boulevard last week.

The accelerated approval came as the new Crew SC ownership and government entities are under a tight MLS imposed deadline of Dec. 31st to work out a deal to keep the team in town. The Columbus Partnership — along with new potential owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam and Pete Edwards, lead an effort to develop a plan that made economic sense for the city, county, and new ownership while satisfying the requirements to the league. A new stadium is a cornerstone of the effort.

While Council approval is a key victory to Save The Crew, it’s not the only one. The plan will have to be approved by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners. The plan is highly likely to pass with all three of the Commissioners already speaking out in favor of the plan. The board has two remaining sessions in the 2018 calendar year, Tuesday, Dec. 11th and the following Tuesday, Dec. 18th.

With governmental approval, the sale of Columbus Crew SC is expected within the next month. New ownership would then start work on the replacement to MAPFRE Stadium. The new Confluence Village stadium is currently scheduled to open in 2021. Tonight’s vote brings that future closer to reality.