Columbus Crew Stadium - Origins

Origins

The Columbus Crew played their first three seasons at Ohio Stadium on the campus of The Ohio State University. During Crew games, large sections of the stadium were blocked off to reduce capacity from approximately 90,000 to 25,243. Although the Crew enjoyed success at Ohio Stadium during their tenure there, the large seating capacity and limitations to the field size made the stadium ill-suited for soccer. Additionally, Ohio Stadium lacked permanent field lights. These problems, along with planned renovations to Ohio Stadium, which began in 1999, were all factors in the development of Crew Stadium. The construction cost of US$28.5 million was covered entirely with private funds from Crew owner and oil billionaire Lamar Hunt and his Hunt Sports group.

Columbus Crew Stadium opened on May 15, 1999 with a match between the home side and the New England Revolution. It is the first major league soccer-specific stadium in the United States, and has been credited with inspiring the wave of construction of soccer-specific stadiums throughout the league. The seating capacity was 22,555 until 2008 when construction of a permanent stage in the north end zone reduced seating capacity to the current 20,455, with room to expand to 30,000 total seats for concerts. It is located on the grounds of the Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds.

In the 2010 Showcase issue of Stadia Magazine, Columbus Crew Stadium is considered the most influential stadium of the last decade stating "Who'd have thought when it opened in 1999 that Major League Soccer's first purpose-built stadium would kick-start the wave of dedicated soccer specific stadiums that continue today?"

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