While Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam made more headlines for helping save the Columbus Crew, the purchase group was also led by a prominent local investor: orthopedic surgeon Dr. Peter Edwards.
“We’re going to put the team in a position to be successful," Edwards said in an interview with WOSU. "We really want to have a wonderful venue so that the game day experience is top-notch."
Along with the Haslam family, Edwards recently purchased the Crew for $150 million with the intention of keeping them in Columbus. The partners also plan to spend $230 million for a new stadium in the Arena District.
“As people become aware that it’s different now and that the commitment there is different now, we think that it will be really exciting for people to come and see a game,” Edwards says.
Although he will continue his busy private practice, since purchasing the team Edwards has stepped down as the Crew’s team doctor. He held the position since Major League Soccer started in Columbus in 1996. Now, one of Edwards’ associates will take over.
“I’ve been pretty closely involved with soccer and the Crew for the entire existence of The Crew, so I’ve been a huge fan my whole adult life, almost,” Edwards says.
Edwards grew up in Upper Arlington and attended schools in the Columbus suburb, but he never played soccer. While an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University, Edwards played varsity tennis but injured his ankle and wrist. He returned to Columbus where he finished his education at The Ohio State University.
Edwards says he met the Haslam family when they began looking to buy the Columbus Crew.
“A lot of the NFL ownership groups are looking at soccer because it’s a growing sport and the popularity is expanding and there’s a lot of excitement around the sport, especially with the World Cup coming in 2026,” Edwards explains.
Edwards would not disclose the exact percentage his family owns of The Crew.
“That’s not a question that we focus on. We’re very comfortable that we’re partners,” Edwards says. “We’re doing things together and at the end of the day we have a team that’s going to be on the ownership side and that’s the most important thing.”
Edwards says he will leave the team management decisions to the professionals.
“We want to win and part of that is putting the right people in their jobs like Tim Bezbatchenko (Columbus Crew president), and Caleb Porter (Columbus Crew coach),” Edwards says. “We’re going to lean heavily on them to make the right decisions and lead this club and we’re going to provide the support so that they can do their jobs and bring a winning team to Columbus.”
The new stadium will be part of the Confluence Village development in the Arena District, with construction starting as early as this summer. Columbus, Franklin County and state officials have all pledged their financial support in the downtown development.
“When 2021 comes along, we think there’s going to be an explosion of interest and excitement with regard to the new downtown venue,” Edwards says. “And it’s just going to build with the team as well.”