Despite all odds, the Columbus Crew had their 2019 season opener on March 2.
Back in 2017, then owner, Anthony Precourt, announced his decision to move the team to Austin, Texas after attendance began to drop. Why? For starters, it’s not exactly the best location for a sports arena.
Mapfre Stadium, where the Crew plays, is, by arena standards, in the middle of nowhere. The nearest restaurant is a pierogi place that’s a 20 minute walk away.
Another factor is that parking is a mess and can run spectators $20.
Compare that to Nationwide Arena and the difference is night and day. At Nationwide, there are at least four restaurants less than five minutes away from the arena and parking is about $10.
Regardless, the decision to move was quickly met with backlash as fans of the team congregated in front of City Hall to show their support of the Crew.
They argued their case for an hour and had several speakers as well, but it seemed all for naught.
Even though fans were clearly upset, the team’s fate was all but sealed. They would be moving to Texas.
After some more rallies and a few lawsuits, things started looking up.
The state of Ohio and the city of Columbus filed a lawsuit against the owner of the Crew and Major League Soccer in an attempt to keep the team in Ohio.
Though it seems frivolous, it actually invokes a 1996 law stating that “no professional team that gets public assistance or uses public facilities can leave town without giving six months’ notice and providing locals an opportunity to buy the team.”
Negotiations went back and forth, and the state of Ohio earmarked $15 million for construction of a new stadium as well as many other donors to buy out the team.
Finally, the Crew got new ownership and they would officially stay in Columbus.
According to massivereport.com:
“In Austin, where PSV worked tirelessly to get a team established, roadblocks continued to emerge. Whether it was a lack of an ideal stadium site, not enough fan backing or a variety of other issues, the pursuit to move a team to Texas continued to drag on for nearly a year.”
Nevertheless, through all of the ups and downs, the Columbus Crew finally had their first game of the season which ended in a draw.
The team took on the defending Supporters’ Shield winners, the New York Red Bulls, and gained a 1-1 draw from defender Gaston Sauro.
New York scored early on in the game, but after that, Columbus dominated the rest.
The Crew controlled the game with a 71.5 percent possession rate while the Red’s passing accuracy dropped down to 63.9 percent.
Fans can catch the Crew take on the New England Revolution on Saturday, March 9 at 2 p.m Tune in at 97.1 FM The Fan or watch it on SportsTime Ohio.