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Columbus Crew sets date for stadium groundbreaking

Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise Columbus Crew has announced it will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for its new downtown stadium on October 10.

The Crew is seeking to push forward with its plans for a new home, with a downtown stadium being a major part of talks that led to the team securing its future in Columbus. The groundbreaking event will be open to the general public, with the first 500 supporters in attendance to receive a commemorative mini-shovel.

In June, Crew president Tim Bezbatchenko revealed that the 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 (£184.6m/€208.1m) 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.

Confluence Village is envisioned as a mixed-use residential and business park located west of the Huntington Park baseball stadium. This week, Columbus City Council appointed five members to the Confluence Development Authority, the body that is overseeing the project.

Local media outlet WOSU noted that the project still has major hurdles to overcome. These include the fact that Crew owner Haslam Sports Group has yet to seal a deal to acquire the parcel of land it wants in the Arena District. This is the only package of land remaining in the area.

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.

The franchise enhanced its plans for the new stadium by agreeing two significant commercial deals, with the Legends agency and IBM Services and IBM iX, in July.