Downtown that the letter says are “feasible” and could help create a “stadium central” along with Nationwide Arena and Huntington Park.
“For all of these options, we would partner with private developers to turn the surrounding area into an entertainment district with restaurants, bars and attractive streetscapes,” they wrote in the letter.
Along with stadium sites, the letter outlined scenarios in which local investors would purchase portions of the team. All of those offers are contingent on the Crew and MLS making a long-term commitment to staying in Columbus.
Ginther and Fischer both signed the letter. Both declined to comment on the letter, Ginther doing so through a spokeswoman.
In a statement, the Crew owners said: “Precourt Sports Ventures received and has read the letter distributed by Columbus Mayor Ginther and Alex Fischer. As noted two weeks ago, PSV remains open to productive dialogue should the City of Columbus choose to reengage with PSV.”
First, the city needs a commitment, said Robin Davis, the mayor’s spokeswoman. “We want to be able to enter into good-faith partnership with the MLS and with Mr. Precourt, and for all of us to be able to do that and move any further we need the commitment from them that they will stay in Columbus. We aren’t interested in being in a bidding war with another city.”
Mapfre Stadium sits on about 15 acres at the fairgrounds, but that doesn’t include the surrounding parking.
At Lou Berliner Park, the city has more than 200 acres along the Scioto River, south of Downtown and near German Village.
Dodge Recreation Center is part of a 16-acre park near the interchange of Interstates 70 and 71 in Franklinton, where local officials expect development to explode in the next several decades. Several mixed-use developments on city- and county-owned property already are in the
works for Franklinton.
Davis said the city likely would try to “recreate those park spaces” elsewhere if they were chosen for a new soccer stadium.
“We know those are important areas to the neighborhoods,” she said.
Davis declined to specify which privately owned Downtown sites the city has in mind for a stadium. She said the city has discussed redeveloping the Ohio Expo Center — the existing stadium site — with state officials in the past but never in the context of keeping the Crew in Columbus.
The Crew signed a 25-year lease for the state-owned land in 1998, spending about $28.5 million to build a stadium. Modern stadiums can cost more than $200 million.
A spokeswoman for the Ohio Expo Center said the agency does not have any development plans for the site.
“Everything we’re doing is in a preliminary phase,” Davis said. “We would be working with the state as partners and also private developers to make that happen.”
In a statement, Gov. John Kasich’s spokesman, Jon
Keeling, said: “As he’s stated before, the governor would certainly like the Crew to stay in Columbus. While we did not have a hand in this aspect of the mayor’s proposal to Major League Soccer and Mr. Precourt, we are happy to discuss any and all potential ideas for a longterm home for the Crew.”
Ginther and Fischer outlined several scenarios in which local investors would purchase stakes in the team, including “crowdfunding and shared ownership with local investors in a ‘Green Bay Packers’ model of professional sports.” Without giving details, a source close to the negotiations said an unnamed person from the region is willing to buy a majority stake in the team.
Precourt bought the team in 2013 for $68 million, according to Forbes.
The letter also offers to help the Crew line up local sponsors to support the team.
Crew SC supporters wait for their team to arrive for Wednesday night’s MLS Eastern Conference finals game against Toronto FC at BMO Field in Toronto.