Columbus Crew SC broke ground on its new downtown stadium Thursday afternoon. Over 4,000 fans cheered as city officials and Haslam Sports Group executives dug ceremonial shovels into dirt at the Arena District site.
Just hours before the planned event, the team reached a purchase agreement with Nationwide Realty Investors to secure the land. A Crew spokesman says the land purchase price was approximately $25.7 million.
Speaking in front of the crowd, Crew co-owner Pete Edwards announced the ownership group is contributing an additional $70 million to the stadium, raising the total cost of the project to $300 million.
“We want this to be so cool that everybody thinks it’s cool," Edwards said. "So when we see something and they go, ‘Well, that’s gonna cost a little bit more money,’ we kind of look at each other and say, ‘We want this to be the best.'"
The 20,000-seat arena will include the first-of-its-kind beer garden in Major League Soccer, plus a 5,000-square-foot brew pub. It's slated to sit inside Confluence Village, a mixed-use residential and business park, just west of Huntington Park.
“I think it’s been a lot of hard work by a lot of good people,” said Crew co-owner Dee Haslam. “You know, it’s the Columbus Way. Everyone worked together, public-private partnership that worked really well.”
Edwards and the Haslam family purchased the Crew for $150 million from former owner Anthony Precourt last year, following months of negotiations between local investors, the city and Precourt Sports Ventures. Precourt threatened to move the team to Austin, Texas, if the city didn't build a new downtown stadium. That vision remained as an instrumental part of the #SaveTheCrew grassroots effort.
To build the stadium, the city is putting $50 million in public money to develop infrastructure around the area. However, local media contend that contribution is closer to $100 million. Mayor Andrew Ginther has disputed such reports, clarifying that $38 million is going towards renovating the Crew's current home, MAPFRE Stadium, into a community sports park. He says another $12 million is going towards general infrastructure.
The Columbus Crew plans to play in the new stadium beginning in July 2021.