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Columbus Crew unveils new renderings for downtown stadium

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“Coming in 2021...”

The wait to see the future is over. Columbus Crew SC unveiled long-awaited renderings for the team’s planned downtown stadium on Tuesday morning during the September meeting of the Downtown Commission.

New Crew Stadium looking east towards downtown (Crew Communications)

The stadium design is starkly modern. The exterior is enclosed with angular wrapping that is perforated, allowing light to bleed through. The same material is used in the roof that covers every seat in the facility, providing protection from the elements while amplifying fan noise. Light-colored brick and tall glass windows forms the rest of the facade.

Inside, each stand is unique, a design choice carried over from the earliest days of the project. The North stands remain the supporters’ section, with 3,400 safe-standing seats for the Nordecks. The design adds two patios and a beer garden to the viewing options on the supporters’ section end. The steep seating area creates a wall of support similar to recent soccer-specific stadiums in Orlando, Los Angeles and Minnesota.

The new Nordecke (Crew Communications)

The west stands add suites with outdoor seating hanging over the seating area below, an effect the team claims as a first. The premium seating options include club seats at the pitch- and concourse-level with access to lounges. On the east side, the stadium has more traditional seating options in the general admission and reserved seating area in addition to pitch-level club seats.

Opposite of the supporters, the south stands has two tiers of seats and a 5,000 square foot brew hall with views of the city. The brew hall is expected to be open on non-match days for community events. Video boards will be installed on the north and south ends of the stadium.

A concourse wraps around the stadium, connecting all the stands and providing standing-room views of the game and the city. The stadium also has a public plaza outside that serves as the main fan entrance.

Plaza at new Crew Stadium (Crew Communications)

These renderings bring a big, expected change from the steel and concrete “erector set” of MAPFRE Stadium, where the Black & Gold have played since 1998. The new Crew stadium joins the class of modern stadiums in Major League Soccer. The wrap-around roof mirrors the experience at New York’s Red Bull Arena, a loud stadium even when half full. The steep rise of the stands leaves fans feeling right on top of the action. Seats even at the top of the seating area will be much closer to the field than at MAPFRE Stadium. The renderings don’t go into what IBM iX will bring to the fan experience, promising further enhancements as construction commences.

It’s a modern stadium with all the amenities that teams in MLS and in other leagues look for in a new design. The luxury suites, stadium lounges and common areas are beyond the bare-bones nature of MAPFRE Stadium. The stadium will be used to host community events, much like Nationwide Arena and Huntington Park next door are able to do now.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that the design is the starkest break from the brick and steel look of the Arena District, a tone set by Nationwide Arena and Huntington Park. The new Crew Stadium decidedly looks to the future with a space-age feel. It’s not reminiscent of European soccer stadiums of the past and it breaks from the design set by iconic stadiums such as Bayern’s Allianz Arena or the steel and glass on the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Despite its futuristic look, the new Crew Stadium remains “of the neighborhood.” It’s reminiscent of Providence Park in Portland, as it appears built to human scale. There are views of the city from the concourses. The main plaza sits just off Nationwide Boulevard. It’s connected to the community in a way that MAPFRE Stadium was never able to do.

The groundbreaking for the new stadium will take place on Thursday, Oct. 10 in an event on site. The stadium is expected to open in July of 2021.

This is an ongoing story and Massive Report will provide updates as they become available.