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MAPFRE Stadium Overhaul Prompts Review of State Fairgrounds

MAPFRE Stadium was the first soccer-specific stadium built in the U.S.
MAPFRE Stadium

Gov. Mike DeWine has appointed a task force to consider the future of the Ohio State Fairgrounds as well as the current home of the Columbus Crew SC.

Beyond the annual State Fair, DeWine says the 19-member Expo 2050 commission must consider that events are held on the fairgrounds year-round.

The fairgrounds is located next to the MAPFRE Stadium, the current home of the Crew. The MLS team worked out a $140 million deal late last year to avoid moving to Austin, Texas.

On July 1, Columbus City Council okayed spending $50 million for a new stadium in downtown Columbus and for the redevelopment of MAPFRE Stadium.

Plans for current stadium include a community sports park and practice facility for the Crew. The price tag for MAPFRE's redevelopment is $100 million.

The next day, the Franklin County commissioners approved a total of $75 million over 30 years toward that deal. The deal also involves $20 million from the state of Ohio and $25 million from a bond issue.

DeWine says the task force needs to deal with that request soon, but he’s not suggesting anything – including whether the fairgrounds should relocate out of the city.

“We’re not limiting them at all. In fact, we’re telling them to take a kind of big, holistic approach to where we need to go in the future," DeWine said.

DeWine also noted the state highway patrol has a training facility on the fairgrounds, and the Ohio History Connection museum and its Ohio Village are nearby.

Former Columbus Dispatch publisher and former state Rep. Mike Curtin (D-Columbus), along with Ohio Developmental Services Agency director and former Findlay mayor Lydia Mihalik, co-chairs of the Expo 2050 task force.

Other members include Ohio Chamber of Commerce President Sandy Doyle-Ahern, Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin, Curt Moody, CEO, of Columbus architecture firm Moody Nolan, Keith Myers, vice president of planning, architecture, and real Estate at Ohio State University, Dr. Scott Myers, CEO of  All American Quarter Horse Congress and Ohio Department of Agriculture Director Dorothy Pelanda.