Major League Soccer franchise Columbus Crew played its first game at Lower.com Field on Saturday as a capacity crowd of just over 20,000 attended the 2-2 draw against New England Revolution.
The Crew did not get off to the best of starts at its new home and was 2-0 down after 30 minutes. The home team pulled one back before half-time and equalised with around 20 minutes to go, with goalscorer Gyasi Zardes describing the atmosphere as “electric”.
Lower, a locally-based fintech company, signed on as the naming rights sponsor of the stadium last month. The deal is reportedly worth between $3m (£2.2m/€2.5m) and $4m per year and as part of the agreement, Lower is donating $1,000 to Healthy Homes, a non-profit housing organisation, for each home goal scored by the Crew.
Lower.com Field was built at a cost of $313.9m and the venue includes seats that are as much as 28 feet closer to the pitch than any of the seats at the club’s previous home, Historic Crew Stadium. Historic Crew Stadium (formerly known as Mapfre Stadium) opened in 1999 as the first soccer-specific stadium built by an MLS team.
Ahead of Saturday’s match, the Crew announced that the 3,364-capacity Nordecke, the second largest supporters section in MLS, had officially sold out. All premium club, suites and loge boxes at Lower.com Field have also sold out for the current season.
After the game, Crew coach Caleb Porter said: “It’s a lot easier to look forward and be positive about (the game) though when you see this frickin’ atmosphere. I’ve been in every stadium in this league and I’ve been in most of the top stadiums around the world, most of them. This is up there with the best in the world. It’s maybe one of the loudest.
“It’s the loudest 20,000 certainly I’ve ever heard. We’re going to win a lot of games at this stadium.”
The premium spaces at the new home of the Crew are among the highest-end premium experiences in MLS and include Ledge Seats which hang over the lower bowl. Upon arrival to the southeast entrance of Lower.com Field, supporters will be able to walk up to and congregate in a 62,000 square-foot public plaza featuring a large, outdoor 14-feet by 24-feet video screen.
In March, the Crew revealed further details for the Astor Park mixed-use neighbourhood which will sit adjacent to the stadium, with its name designed to pay tribute to the origins of the sport in America.
Image: Columbus Crew