Columbus Mayor announces future plans for Crew SC and MAPFRE stadium

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COLUMBUS - Columbus and Franklin County officials provided an update Wednesday morning on the purchase of Columbus Crew SC and detailed plans for MAPFRE Stadium.

The city said the families of Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam and Dr. Peter Edwards have been working to complete the purchase of the team by the end of the year.

The new ownership, along with city and county officials, are working on a Memorandum of Understand (MOU) to solidify details of the sale, a new soccer stadium and repurposing of MAPFRE Stadium.

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The city has committed funds for infrastructure and land for the new stadium as well as the county.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced the proposal includes moving Crew SC’s practice facility to MAPFRE Stadium once the new stadium is complete.

Additional, MAPFRE Stadium will be turned into the Columbus Community Sports Park, a shared-use center with an indoor soccer field and basketball courts as well as outdoor athletic fields.

“We are excited about the possibilities of new ownership of the Columbus Crew and all that will bring to the City. Part of that plan must include reimagining the existing stadium, so we are investing in a community sports complex that will serve the people of Columbus,” said Mayor Ginther. “Nearly 200,000 residents live within three miles of this location. It will benefit residents of all ages and strengthen the connection between the soccer club and the City.”

“This multi-sport community athletic facility is going to be a jewel in our community, and such a great feature in the lives of our residents,” said Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown. “It’s exciting to be a part of the creation of a lasting piece of infrastructure in this neighborhood, and to help find new purpose for such an iconic stadium.”

“We are on the verge of doing the impossible – saving the Crew in a very creative way and helping so many areas of Columbus through public-private partnerships,” said Alex Fischer, CEO of the Columbus Partnership. “It is the Columbus Way, and it will be a model for professional sports and communities for years to come.”

“It is important to Council that we show clear benefit to residents and nearby neighborhoods, that we are not leaving such an iconic building sit empty, and that we engage the public in a vision to build new sports facilities that we can be proud of for years to come. This proposal meets those goals, and we appreciate the hard work of so many partners in the public and private sector,” said Council President Shannon Hardin.

Councilmember Elizabeth Brown who chairs the finance committee for City Council, said, “The most important part of saving the Crew is the benefit it brings to our city and its residents. The Columbus Community Sports Park exemplifies that commitment.”

A public hearing regarding the MOU is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, December 6, 2018, in Council Chambers. Council is expected to take up the MOU at the Council meeting on December 10, 2018.