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Watershed moment: Talk of replacing pro soccer stadiums

Mar 8, 2013, 2:50 PM EDT

Crew Stadium

My word! We’ve gotten to this point now:

It’s time to start talking about replacing some of America’s professional soccer facilities. The very ones that we were so desperate to develop, and so giddy to see erected just a few short years ago.

Crew Stadium in Columbus was always destined to the first replaced. It was first built, Lamar Hunt’s leap-of-faith, opening in 1999 at a time when Major League Soccer’s future was every bit as sure as puppy dog’s ability to hold it long enough.

Today, Crew president Mark McCullers is talking about replacing the country’s first major, purpose-built professional soccer stadium. Facilities are built with a 30-40 year shelf life. For Crew Stadium, it’s definitely on the lower end. As the first one, it is understandably bare bones.

As such, it lacks most of the amenities (including some real money makers) now standard in MLS grounds. Said McCullers:

The stadium is 15 years old now. We don’t want to throw good money after bad. We need to start having the discussions about a longer term facility solution for us and that could take a variety of forms.

The pressure point here is an upcoming Mexico-United States qualifier. And where does the United States historically host Mexico for World Cup qualifiers? Crew Stadium in Columbus, of course. McCullers (along with everyone else around Ohio soccer, presumably) doesn’t want to lose these opportunities because the facility just isn’t what it needs to be.

  1. larryharry59 - Mar 8, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Move the Mexico game to the Big house in Ann Arbor. The only reason the game was played in Columbus because it was far north enough that the stadium would actually have more American fans than Mexican ones like you would in LA or Texas.

    • cdhoeger - Mar 8, 2013 at 5:00 PM

      You’re joking right? Soccer specific stadiums offer the following: ticket control, familiar surroundings for supporters and players, a soccer venue for a soccer game, built for soccer viewing and supporting whereas the big house is proportioned for football crouds. What else am I missing? Oh yeah, the fact that its a SOCCER PITCH, not a football field made from field turf. Seriously I am shocked that suggestions like these get made on such a soccer specific website. Nothing against you, I am certain you are a great and intelligent person and I respect you as a person, but my opinion is that your suggestion is a really really bad idea.

      • larryharry59 - Mar 8, 2013 at 5:10 PM

        Yes lets stage the biggest competitive game in 4 years in a small stadium instead of the biggest stadium in the United States. You do realize US men;s national games are played at Giants Stadium and even the Jaguars stadium? I don;t think you realized that soccer games are played in football stadiums. The majority of US men games are in fact played in NFL stadiums and not soccer specific ones. I kind of think you missed where I wrote “Mexico game” meaning I was talking about the US vs Mexico not an MLS game.Oh wait the biggest crowds in the MLS are played in a NFL stadium too up in Seattle.

      • Steve Davis - Mar 8, 2013 at 6:35 PM

        Larry … You may be missing CD’s point. That could absolutely fill pretty much any stadium in this country for US-Mexico. US Soccer’s idea here (and it’s the right one) is to tightly control ticket sales, thus giving the US fed the best chance of ensuring a pro-American crowd.

      • handsofsweed - Mar 9, 2013 at 12:38 AM

        Great idea there, Larry. Just make sure we’re not hosting The Ohio State Buckeyes when we play a home game in Ann Arbor, unless you like winning only 10% of the time.

  2. tylerbetts - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    Risk either way, right?

    Don’t upgrade Crew Stadium, and risk missing out on national team games because you are or if date and lacking the amenities places like Kansas City have. Upgrade/replace Crew Stadium and you risk losing part of what makes it a fortress for the national team.

  3. dutchman1350 - Mar 10, 2013 at 11:19 AM

    Would love to see Crew Stadium relocated to the arena district. They have the space, and it would be a great alternate for outdoor concerts, and a couple hockey games in January.

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