If what every Columbus Crew SC fan has known for some time didn’t quite seem believable, that notion changed completely on Wednesday afternoon. After an official joint press conference held by MLS Commissioner Don Garber, the Crew’s new ownership group and and new coach and president, it is officially official: the Crew is here to stay. Simply stated by the CEO of the Columbus partnership Alex Fischer, who played a large role in keeping the team, “This is a fantastic way to kick off the new Crew year.”
“It really is the dawn of a new era for our league,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber added during his opening statements. “Today we are here to announce that we have a new, very committed and very passionate Ohio-based ownership group for the Crew.”
As Garber pointed out, the Crew was a team with an uncertain future just over a year ago. The underlying theme remained the same throughout the entire press conference: none of this could have been done without the Save The Crew movement and the people behind the scenes.
Save the Crew was a movement that started at Hendoc’s Pub on Oct. 21, 2017, the night after it was announced former owner Anthony Precourt had preemptive thoughts to move the team to Austin, Texas, and moved to a rally at Columbus City Hall a few days later.
People from different walks of life brought all of their skills together and somehow it worked. At Wednesday’s event, a number of Save The Crew’s prominent members were in attendance to watch their team officially be saved.
The important buzzword that ESPN’s Taylor Twellman repeated on Wednesday as he emceed the event was “collaboration,” and that’s what saving the Crew was all about. People from the city, state and national level collaborating to ensure that the Black & Gold would remain in Columbus.
While most of the paperwork and official behind-the-scenes work was done by members of the Columbus Partnership and the new ownership group, it was the Save The Crew movement that ensured the club wouldn’t phase out after its exit from the 2017 MLS Cup playoffs. The movement made people not only in Columbus aware, but every soccer fan in America that this could actually happen, that the Crew weren’t going anywhere.
“The future is bright here,” said new owner and former team doctor Pete Edwards. “We understand that there is a lot of work to do, but we feel as if we have two extremely talented people that are going to lead our organization.”
Newly appointed team president Tim Bezbatchenko and head coach Caleb Porter were also officially introduced to the public during Wednesday’s press conference. Both of whom have extremely deep Ohio roots and are both excited to be a part of the club’s new era.
“When I saw all of you in this community and the Nordecke and the supporters and everyone rally behind this club, that’s the type of club I want to manage,” Porter said. “A club that’s relevant. A club that the people are proud of. A club where they’re going to fight, roll up their sleeves and save it. And I felt compelled to come back and jump on board with that movement to Save the Crew. But not just save it, but elevate it and continue to raise the bar. So a reason, again that I’m here is because of all of you.”
While the Save the Crew movement wasn’t expected to be successful, it did and that’s mainly because of the supporters and a movement that almost seemed like a dream at the beginning. All that matters now is that the future of the Columbus Crew is ensured and looks about as bright as ever. No matter what happens from here on out, the Black & Gold are here for the long haul.