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Columbus Crew stadium’s opening date pushed back

Columbus Crew president Tim Bezbatchenko has revealed that the Major League Soccer club’s new stadium is set to open later than originally planned in the summer of 2021.

Plans were released in December for a new 20,000-seat stadium for the Crew, with the venue set to serve as the centrepiece of a ‘Confluence Village’.

The stadium is expected to cost around $230m (£181m/€203m) and the club had initially set its sights on opening the venue in time for the start of the 2021 MLS season. Later in the year now appears to be a more realistic target for the team.

Bezbatchenko told the Columbus Dispatch newspaper: “The stadium is going to change the the trajectory of this club forever. There’s going to be some ancillary positive consequences to this that you can’t even approximate and guess about in terms of the culture change that the fans are going to go through.”

The Crew’s stadium plans are being led by Dee and Jimmy Haslam, who assumed ownership of the franchise at the end of 2018. The club had previously been owned by Precourt Sports Ventures (PSV), which had sought to take the team to a proposed new stadium in Austin, Texas.

PSV has since become the investor-operator of Austin FC, which was announced as the 27th MLS franchise in January. Austin FC, which is set to begin playing in MLS in 2021, also has plans for a new 20,000-seat stadium.

The Crew currently plays at Mapfre Stadium, which is set to be turned into the Columbus Community Sports Park once the new ground opens. Mapfre Stadium opened in 1999 and was the first soccer-specific stadium built for an MLS team.