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Columbus Crew stadium plans clear latest hurdle

Columbus City Council has approved plans to rebuild Columbus Crew’s Mapfre Stadium, with the Major League Soccer team hoping to move into a new ground by 2021.

In December, plans were revealed for the Crew to move into a new 20,000-seat stadium, with the existing Mapfre Stadium due to be transformed into the Columbus Community Sports Park.

The revamped Mapfre Stadium would serve as a practice facility for the Crew. Local news outlet 10TV reported that council members yesterday (Monday) passed an ordinance that gives the go-ahead to the next part of the development plans.

The city will now work with Franklin County and Crew SC Stadium Company to finalise development plans for the Mapfre Stadium revamp. The ordinance states that Crew SC Stadium Company will contribute at least $140m (£111m/€124m), with the city to provide $50m and a further $140m contribution required from the public.

Last month, Crew president Tim Bezbatchenko revealed that the new stadium is set to open later than originally planned in the summer of 2021. The new stadium is expected to cost around $230m.

Mapfre Stadium opened in 1999 and was the first soccer-specific stadium built for an MLS team.

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.