Columbus Crew Stadium
Columbus Crew Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
As a charter franchise in the MLS, the Columbus Crew commenced play at Ohio Stadium in MLS’s inaugural season of 1996. As it is principally an American football stadium, the facility was never popular with the team or its fans. When renovations to the American football stadium forced the Crew out, their owner, oil billionaire Lamar Hunt, decided to build the team its own dedicated home. Thus, Crew Stadium was born — purpose-built for the Columbus Crew in the winter of 1998-99. The construction cost of $28.5 million was covered entirely with private funds from Mr. Hunt and his Hunt Sports group.
The stadium seats approximately 22,500 (with room to expand to 30,000 total seats and is located on the grounds of the Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds. Crew stadium opened May 15, 1999 with a match between the home side and the New England Revolution. It is the second soccer-specific stadium in the United States (the USL First Division’s Charleston Battery opened its soccer-specific stadium, Blackbaud Stadium, on April 24, 1999) but the first in Major League Soccer (including a FIFA regulation 115yd x 75yd pitch), and has been credited with inspiring the wave of construction of so called soccer-specific stadiums throughout the league.
In addition to hosting the Crew’s home games, the stadium has hosted numerous United States Men’s (most notably, the 2001 World Cup Qualifier between the U.S. and Mexico known as La Guerra Fria due to sub-freezing temperatures) and Women’s National Team matches, the 2001 MLS Cup championship, the 2000 and 2005 MLS All-Star Games, the 2001 and 2003 NCAA Men’s College Cup national football championships, and the 2003 Women’s World Cup. It was the host stadium for the 2002 Major League Lacrosse championship game. Crew stadium has also hosted games for the Ohio High School State Championship tournaments in both American football and soccer. It also hosts the annual Westerville Football Classic, featuring the Westerville Central, Westerville North, Westerville South, and New Albany football teams.
The stadium also hosts numerous concerts annually, including Rock on the Range, an annual festival of performances by rock bands, and concerts by Rascal Flatts to close out the Ohio State Fair in 2006 and 2007. A permanent stage has been built in the north end of the stadium to accommodate concerts after the closing of Germain Amphitheater.