When Columbus Crew SC joined the Major League Soccer in 1996, not only was the club the first MLS franchise, but the team shortly after built the first soccer specific stadium in the country. Formerly known as Crew Stadium, MAPFRE Stadium officially opened in 1998.
Being host to Columbus’ professional soccer team, two major music festivals, local high school soccer and football games and much more, MAPFRE Stadium has been a staple in Columbus for 20 years. But with new ownership taking over the Crew in January, the promise of a new, downtown stadium was made.
That promise was made official on Tuesday morning when the Crew announced the groundbreaking date and details for the new downtown stadium located in Confluence Village in the Arena District. The club will hold the even on the site of the new stadium on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019.
The land that sits west of Huntington Park — home to the 2019 Governor’s Cup Champion Columbus Clippers — is set on 28.66 acres. Nationwide Realty Investors owns the land and has agreed to sell approximately 21.02 acres to the Crew ownership group of Dee and Jimmy Haslam and Pete Edwards, according to Bill Bush of the Columbus Dispatch.
Supporters are invited to attend the groundbreaking ceremony located at the new stadium site (650 W. Nationwide Blvd, Columbus, Ohio 43215). The event will begin at approximately 2:00pm EST, and will be open to the general public.
The event will feature food trucks and music from DJ AXCESS for supporters to enjoy. The general public can begin arriving on site at 1:00 p.m. ET and the first 500 supporters in attendance will receive a commemorative groundbreaking mini-shovel.
An announcement of groundbreaking from the new stadium comes after a near year-long struggle between the city of Columbus, MLS and former ownership group Precourt Sports Ventures, who wanted to move the the Crew to Austin, Texas. The organic Save The Crew movement helped to bring awareness to the support for the club in Columbus and keep the team in the city.
Building a new downtown stadium is just another step in the process for the Haslams and the Edwards families in making the Crew that much more relevant in Columbus.
“We’re obviously really excited about the new stadium. We want to build momentum,” President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko told Massive Report in July.
“We’re still in the process of hiring key members to help get the word out and to help bring people back. There were a lot of people who cared about not losing the Crew, but it’s important for us to educate them as to why it’s important to now support the Crew.”
With the addition of the new Crew stadium, the Arena District will see three professional sports teams — the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets and the Clippers — operating in the general area between High Street and Neil Avenue.
The new Crew stadium is expected to open in July of 2021.