Critics Don't Want Public Money Going To Columbus Crew Stadium

Dec 7, 2018

After announcing that the city plans to turn MAPFRE Stadium into the Columbus Community Sports Park, city officials announced plans for a new, $230 million Columbus Crew stadium downtown.

#SavethCrew advocates joined officials Thursday in announcing a plan to build “Confluence Village.” This mixed-use development would combine office and residential space, with a stadium that would seat 20,000, on 33 acres adjacent to Huntington Park in the Arena District.

The total price tag would be $645 million, including purchasing the team, transforming MAPFRE and building the new stadium. Most of that money is coming from a group of private investors, including Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam and Columbus doctor Peter Edwards, Jr.

Columbus and Franklin County each pledged $50 million to develop the stadium site’s infrastructure.

Advocates for Responsible Taxation chair Mike Gonidakis says it is “unfair and unjust” for public money to go towards private professional sports.

“Not only are the taxpayers on the hook for $50 million for renovations, but the county came in with another $50 million on top of another $50 million from the city,” Gonidakis says. “So Franklin County residents are going to be on the hook for another $150 million of this investment the Crew has because they want to move downtown.”

However, the city says it is spending $50 million total towards the project. In a text message, Mayor Ginther's Spokeswoman said, "We don't know the exact split - the design of the Community Sports Park will happen with community input. We expect the majority of our investment to be capital dollars for the sports park."

He says the public does not have enough time to consider the long-term effects of this project. City Council held a meeting on the proposal just hours after it was unveiled, and is expected to pass legislation regarding the team on Monday, Dec. 10.

“And city hall and the mayor want to ram this down our throats. Why do we have to do this so fast?” Gonidakis asks. “What other venue does this happen like this without public input? What are the ramifications? What are the long-term situational aspects we need to consider?”    

Gonidakis calls the Crew deal "corporate welfare" to rich sports owners. He says voting history in the city shows everyone may not be on board for the Crew deal.

“Voters rejected four times that they didn’t want to own Nationwide Arena," Gonidakis says. "Sadly, we own it today.”

Major League Soccer gave a deadline of December 31 to buy the team.

Correction: The City of Columbus will spend $50 million on the Columbus Crew stadium infrastructure and land.