Representatives of Columbus Crew SC showed off the progress being made at their new Downtown stadium during a hard hat tour this morning.
Work has continued at a steady pace since a groundbreaking ceremony officially marked the beginning of the project last October, and team officials say that the building is on track to be completed in time for the first Major League Soccer game to be held there in July of next year.
Josh Glessing, VP of Strategy for Haslam Sports Group, led the tour, explaining that the current view of the building that an observer gets from West Nationwide Boulevard doesn’t quite do it justice.
Apart from the exposed cinder blocks and concrete that will eventually be covered with a more finished-looking product, the scale of the stadium does not really come through, he said, since half of it is built below-grade.
That means that fans enter the stadium at the midway point between the top of the stands and the field, so no one has to travel too far up or down to get to their seats (or to leave when the game is over).
The new stadium will be 460,000 square feet in size, or about 150,000 square feet larger than Mapfre Stadium, where the Crew plays now.
“All the extra square footage goes to big wide concourses, social spaces, premium spaces, concessions, restrooms, everything that makes that experience so much better,” said Glessing, who was quick to add that fans will be sitting significantly closer to the action in the new stadium. “The building itself has gotten bigger, but the seats have all been pulled in.”
Other big differences from the current stadium – a canopy that will cover all of the stands, protecting fans from the elements, and a larger, steeper Nordecke, for the team’s supporter groups.
Plans still call for a mixed-use development to the west and north of the stadium, with residential and office space as well as a city-funded parking garage, a riverfront park and a bike/pedestrian bridge that will link up with the Olentangy Trail.
“We anticipate putting a shovel in the ground on the first phase of the residential, probably, during Q2 of next year,” Glessing said, adding that the first phase-and-a-half of the project will result in about 440 units being built.
The next major stadium-related announcement could be a naming sponsor, although Glessing cautioned that “those deals take a long time to cultivate.”
“Meetings are happening…we’ve gotten lot of good reception,” he said. “It’ll be an ongoing process, but the ultimate goal is to announce something before the stadium opens.”
Scroll down for more pictures from the tour and additional information on the project.