Two City Parks on the Table for Crew Stadium Relocation
An open letter released today from Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther and Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer outlines more details on the ongoing efforts to retain the Columbus Crew SC soccer team after owner Anthony Precourt made it known in October that he is looking to relocate the team to a new city. Within that letter are the details of three site options that the city presented to Precourt, including two options for relocating into existing city parks.
“Imagine a bustling “stadium central” Downtown, with three professional sports arenas right in the heart of the city,” stated Ginther. “Or envision a riverfront stadium on the Southwest Side, with ample park land to develop.”
Those two options include ideas to locate the stadium within Dodge Park in Franklinton or Berliner Sports Park, just south of the Brewery District. The former is a smaller 16 acre site that features a recently renovated public pool, while the latter is a 200-acre sports-centric complex currently home to dozens of baseball/softball fields.
“Or what if we started fresh where the stadium is now, with a new state-of-the-art stadium adjacent to a destination entertainment district?” asked the letter signed by Ginther and Fischer. “And picture if the Crew was partly owned by the fans – the lifeblood of the team’s support.”
That third option to keep the stadium in its existing location would require coordination with the State of Ohio to reconfigure land designated to the Ohio Expo Center and Ohio State Fair.
A fourth option mentioned in the letter includes the idea of moving the stadium Downtown, stating that Columbus has “a number of feasible privately-owned spaces that could be sites for a new stadium” although two existing ideas (here and here) have received mixed reception.
“For all of these options, we would partner with private developers to turn the surrounding area into an entertainment district with restaurants, bars and attractive streetscapes,” stated city leaders in the letter. “None of the above is achievable if we continue to be pitted against another city. We ask you to reconsider working exclusively and collaboratively with us to advance our mutual interest.”
Today’s open letter is the first public interaction between Columbus leaders and Crew ownership since a meeting in New York on November 15th, which reportedly did not go well. Meanwhile, local grassroots efforts have continued to work to support strategies to keep the team in place.