New home will be MLS gem
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April 2, 1999
By Craig Merz
Dispatch Sports Reporter
Other franchises can't hold a candle to the Crew's new soccer- specific stadium.
Jamey Rootes likens the Crew stadium scheduled to open on May 15 to Cleveland's Jacobs Field.
The Crew president and general manager thinks soccer aficionados will flock to the intimate, fan-friendly venue in the same manner baseball fans fill the Jake.
In reality, Columbus Crew Stadium can be compared with Camden Yards in Baltimore. The ballpark was the trend-setter as far as retro parks.
When visitors come to the Crew's home at the fairgrounds, they will see the first soccer-specific stadium built for Major League Soccer.
There have been others erected on a smaller scale at the minor- league level. The Miami Fusion can claim the first soccer-specific venue in MLS, but it sprang from a renovated high-school football stadium.
Columbus is getting a 25,134-seat stadium built by Lamar Hunt for about $25 million.
"We are encouraged by the leap of faith from Lamar Hunt and the Columbus Crew and it is something we look to do each year in the near future,'' MLS commissioner Doug Logan said.
If Logan's dream is fulfilled, there will be bigger and better stadiums popping up in MLS cities. For now, though, the spotlight is on Columbus.
"I can't say enough how proud we are of the Columbus community for providing our first major-league soccer-specific stadium,'' said Hank Steinbrecher, U.S. Soccer general secretary. "I've always said that having our own stadiums to play in is critical for our sport's development.''
MLS is eyeing its next site.
"It's not a well-kept secret that this is our last year in Giants Stadium under the original lease,'' Logan said. "Several sites in New Jersey, including the Meadowlands, provide the answer to the future questions for the MetroStars. We hope to open another stadium each year and have five to six projects at various stages.''
Not only is the Crew building the first league's first stadium, two years ago it opened the first training site built for an MLS team.
How the rest of the league compares:
CHICAGO-- Soldier Field is still a good draw, except for traffic nightmares. No plans for a stadium yet.
COLORADO-- Mile High Stadium is too big. It is unclear whether team will follow Denver Broncos into new stadium.
D.C.-- The United is the main tenant in RFK Stadium since the Redskins left. D.C. would like a new facility, but efforts are stalled until new team owners are secured.
DALLAS-- The Cotton Bowl is old and in a rundown area. Talk of a suburban stadium surfaces constantly.
KANSAS CITY-- Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Chiefs, swallows minuscule crowds. Hunt owns the Chiefs, Wizards and the stadium. They're safe for the moment.
LOS ANGELES -- The Rose Bowl is great for the infrequent huge crowds. The Galaxy may be second in line behind the MetroStars for a new stadium.
MIAMI-- Beautifully renovated Lockhart Stadium has 20,000 seats. The Crew studied the design for its stadium, then made improvements. All the Fusion needs now is fans.
NEW ENGLAND-- Foxboro Stadium is the site for many national team games. Fans don't mind long drive to nowhere. Robert Kraft, owner of the Revolution and New England Patriots, has no plans to take the soccer team to Hartford, Conn.
NEW YORK-NEW JERSEY-- Tops the list for a new stadium. The MetroStars have a yearly battle over artificial turf.
SAN JOSE-- Spartan Stadium, home of the San Jose State football team, had the field widened last year. Good sight lines and seats are close to the field.
TAMPA BAY-- Raymond James Stadium is also home the new home to the NFL Buccaneers. Its an improvement over Houlihan's Stadium but way too big the Mutiny. If they don't move to Rochester, N.Y., a soccer stadium should be a priority.
Venue vintage in visitors' view
Columbus Crew Stadium - By The Numbers 120,000 Man hours worked by Kokosing Construction without a lost-time accident 57,000 Square feet Crew Kicker Plaza 40,000 Square feet of steel siding 25,134 Seats 14,000 Lineal feet of handrale (over 10 miles) 9,800 Parking spaces (800 paved, 9000 grass) 8,625 Square feet of playing surface (75 yds by 115 yds)
Can accomodate any FIFA event
1,400 Tons of galvanized structural steel used for consttruction 562 Concrete bleacher support columns 384 Square foot video board 288 Bathroom stalls 274 Days from groundbreaking to inaugural game (9 months, 1 day) 193 Sinks 169 Foot light poles (4) 140 Doors 84 Foot wide concrete soccer ball (Crew Kicker Plaza) 62 Urinals 54 Individual 2,000-Watt bulbs per light pole 48 Feet tall at the highest point 34 Sponsor panels 32 Feet of scrolling matrix board 30 Open-air Club Loges 26 Shower heads 22 Miles of wiring 19 Inch wide bleacher seats 15 Acre site 13 Sports-themed arcade games 6 Sets of restrooms 3 Glacial rocks used for decor 2 Automated Teller Machines 1 1/4 Inch Tall Four-Blend Kentucky Bluegrass 1 Tenant - AMERICA'S HARDEST WORKING TEAM
English producer surprised to find family orientation
Saturday, May 15, 1999
By Craig Merz
Dispatch Sports Reporter
The world is about to discover what the Columbus Crew already knows -- its new stadium is a gem.
"The fans are well looked after. It's very impressive,'' said Julian Horbury.
The London -- England, not Ohio -- resident toured Crew Stadium yesterday as an assistant producer for the weekly soccer program Futbol Mundial.
By this time next week, footage shot in the $28.5 million stadium will be shown in more than 120 countries. The Crew christens the stadium at 7:30 tonight against the New England Revolution in a Major League Soccer game.
Having covered the sport in countries where it is a religion, Horbury sees the Crew's 22,485-seat stadium as the holy grail for the 4-year-old MLS.
"The MLS has small crowds in huge arenas that have little atmosphere,'' he said. "This place is going to have great atmosphere. This will definitely help get people interested in soccer in the United States.''
He and other members from the international media were struck by the fact barricades aren't needed to prevent unruly fans from entering play. Railings suffice in most areas of the stadium even though some seats are only 8 feet from the field. They also took note of the game arcade in the southeast corner.
"It's more of a family atmosphere. There's no violence connected to the sport here,'' Horbury said.
He said the lack of a roof over the seats is reminiscent of Asian stadiums rather than those in England, which need protection from consistently poor weather.
"It's a quite unique design, really,'' he said.
A one-of-a-kind stadium in this country, noted U.S. Soccer secretary general Hank Steinbrecher. It's the largest soccer-specific stadium in the United States and the first built for an MLS team.
"I can't emphasize enough how important this stadium is to soccer in the United States,'' Steinbrecher said.
He backed up his words by announcing the federation has awarded Columbus the U.S. Open Cup final on Sept. 14. It will be shown live on ESPN for the first time.
The Crew also will host a third- round game on July 13. Dating to 1914, the U.S. Open Cup is one of the oldest cup competitions in the world.
It is open to all amateur and professional teams in the country. The Crew lost to the host Chicago Fire 2- 1 in sudden death in the 1998 final.
June 15, 1994 - Columbus is awarded one of the 10 Inaugural Major League Soccer Franchises.
June 8, 1995 - Lamar Hunt is announced as the investor/operator of the Columbus franchise. The Crew will play its home games at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University, while the search for a permanent home.
April 13, 1996 - The Crew plays its first game at historic Ohio Stadium, defeating D.C. United 4-0.
September 15, 1996 - A record crowd of 31,550 pack Ohio Stadium to watch The Crew defeat NY/NJ 2-0. It was the last regular season game of 1996 and the largest home crowd to ever watch The Crew.
May 6, 1997 - Issue 1, a Franklin County vote to raise taxes .5 % for a downtown arena and stadium fails. The Crew are left to pursue other sites for a permanent home.
Febuary 10, 1998 - A Dublin City vote to provide a Northwest Suburban Columbus home for The Crew also goes down. Time now becomes and issue, as Ohio Stadium renovations will leave The Crew without a home for the 1999 season.
May 15, 1998 - The Ohio Expositions Commission votes 6-2 to approve the form and content of a land lease to build a soccer-specific stadium on the grounds of the Ohio Expo Center.
May 18, 1998 - The State of Ohio Controlling Board approves the 25-year lease, which also includes a 25-year renewal option.
May 28, 1998 - The Ohio Expositions Commission approves the final stadium site.
June 4, 1998 - The second to last signature required for the lease’s approval is signed by the Ohio Department of Administrative Services.
June 9, 1998 - Ohio Governor George Voinovich signs the lease, paving the way for the construction of the country’s first major league stadium built specifically for soccer.
July 7, 1998 - The Crew along with NBBJ Architects unveil the design for the new Columbus Crew Stadium. The 22,500-seat Stadium will combine European atmosphere, traditional American amenities, and The Crew’s Hardworking image to create the premier soccer venue in the country.
August 14, 1998 - The first phase of construction begins, as The Crew breaks ground on its new home. MLS Commissioner Doug Logan is on hand to announce that Columbus will host the MLS All-Star Game in 2000, and the MLS Cup in 2001.
October 18, 1998 - The Crew plays its final game at Ohio Stadium, defeating D.C. United 4-2 in a downpour in game two of the Eastern Conference Finals. Including playoffs, The Crew finishes with a 33-20 all-time record at Ohio Stadium.
November 5, 1998 - The first piece of sod is laid at the stadium. The entire playing field is installed in just over a week.
December 1, 1998 - The Crew announces that the Columbus Crew Stadium’s inaugural match will take place on Saturday, May 15, 1999 at 7:30 p.m. against the New England Revolution in the stadium’s inaugural match.
February 9, 1998 - The Organizing Committee and Logo are unveiled for the Inaugural Game.
May 15, 1999 - The dream of U.S. Soccer fans becomes a reality when The Crew hosts the New England Revolution.
May 22, 1999 - Crew Stadium hosts its first doubleheader, and first U.S. National Team event, when the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team battles El Salvador’s U-17 National Team prior to The Crew’s game vs. Tampa Bay.
2000 - Crew Stadium hosts the 2000 MLS All-Star Game
2001 - Crew Stadium hosts the 2001 MLS Cup
FANS PLEASED WITH PREVIEW OF COLUMBUS CREW STADIUM
May 13, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures
Several thousand fans of the MLS Columbus Crew got a chance to walk through the team's new stadium last weekend and generally approved of what they saw. The observant even got to see owner Lamar Hunt as he walked through the stadium, helped people find their seats and noted work that still needed to be finished. The event also gave fans a chance to buy season tickets and the team estimated it would cross the 9,000 mark.
The new 25,134-seat stadium is on the Ohio state fairgrounds and was built with private funds. The stadium opens Saturday with a match against the New England Revolution. A full house is expected. Sponsorships are reportedly nearing $1 million and all 30 of the venue's luxury boxes have been leased. The stadium will host the MLS All-Star Game in 2001 and the league championship in 2001.