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Lawmakers Propose $15 Million For New Columbus Crew Stadium

A new 20,000-seat stadium for the Columbus Crew SC is being proposed for the Arena District.
City Of Columbus
A new 20,000-seat stadium for the Columbus Crew SC is being proposed for the Arena District.

State legislators have proposed sending $15 million to the Columbus Crew to help build their new stadium in an effort to ensure the team could never be moved without striking a deal with government leaders.

The money is part of a larger omnibus amendment to SB 51, which has become what’s known as a Christmas Tree bill where several lawmakers attach provisions in the lame duck session.

Lawmakers believe the appropriation would trigger the “Art Modell Law” which says a team that plays most of its home games in a stadium supported by public money cannot relocate without government approval.

“It’s state money, financial assistance going directly into the stadium,” says state Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), a vocal supporter of the Columbus Crew in the Statehouse. “Between that and also the local government money, it’s more than MAPFRE (Stadium) ever had and I think MAPFRE was a very strong case as well.”

MAPFRE Stadium is the current home to the Columbus Crew SC.

Last year, the Crew’s current owner Anthony Precourt announced he planned to move the team to Austin. That sparked the #SaveTheCrew movement with fans, businesses and policymakers working to keep the team in Columbus.

“I think this is actually, literally the moment that they will be saved,” Duffey says.

The city of Columbus and Franklin County announced last week it would put $50 million each towards the new stadium. Columbus City Council on Monday signed a resolution supporting the stadium deal.

The project would be a 20,000-seat soccer stadium and community sports park tallying up to $645 million with office and residential space included. The development would be in downtown Columbus, west of Huntington Park and Nationwide Arena.

Most of that money is coming from a group of private investors who are in negociations to buy the Crew, including Cleveland Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam and Columbus doctor Peter Edwards, Jr.

The bill, with its list of amendments, must be approved by the full Ohio House and Senate chambers before going to Gov. John Kasich.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.