COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) — Team officials unveiled plans for a new stadium for the Columbus Crew SC near Downtown Columbus Thursday afternoon. The new stadium will be located adjacent to the Arena District in a new planned neighborhood called "Confluence Village."
The announcement capped a"dizzying" week for Crew supporters. Seven weeks after a new ownership group led by Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam and local doctor Pete Edwards.
The new stadium would be the centerpiece of the new 33-acre neighborhood. It's expected cost is $230 million, and would feature 20,000 seats.
"That environment is so important to activate so it's not just about a game, but it's about the things that happen before the game and after the game," said Alex Fischer with the Columbus Partnership who has been part of the negotiations to keep the team in Columbus.
Confluence Village would also include 885 residential units with a minimum of 20 percent "affordable units," and 270,000 square feet of private commercial and office space that can accommodate up to 1,300 employees.
"Without a downtown stadium, we thought we would be just like any other MLS community and it'd be great, but this is going to be so much better," Edwards said. "We want to be able to walk to the pitch, eat near the pitch, we want to be able to go out and have a drink near the pitch in a downtown center was really what we wanted to be in."
City officials announced Wednesday Mapfre Stadium, the home of the Crew for 20 years, would be converted into a training facility for the team and a community park with soccer fields and walking trails for the public. City officials said the team would play its games at Mapfre Stadium for two more seasons before moving into a new stadium.
Negotiations continue for a final deal to purchase the team. MLS has set a deadline for a deal to be done by the end of 2018.
City leaders and team officials said the new stadium plans would not have been possible without the support from the "Save the Crew" movement led by a grassroots group of fans. Those fans refused to back down when their beloved team was at risk of moving to Austin, TX.
"Not only are we saving the Crew, but we're improving Columbus with this (new stadium)," said David Miller, part of the Save the Crew movement. "We're filling a hole in downtown that needed something. The Save the Crew movement really proved that when regular people get together and are able to fight for the same thing and really work together, anything can be achieved."
Edwards said construction on the new stadium could begin in three to four months with the goal of the Crew playing its first season there in 2021.