Watershed moment: Talk of replacing pro soccer stadiums


My word! We’ve gotten to this point now:

It’s time to start talking about replacing some of America’s professional soccer facilities. The very ones that we were so desperate to develop, and so giddy to see erected just a few short years ago.

Crew Stadium in Columbus was always destined to the first replaced. It was first built, Lamar Hunt’s leap-of-faith, opening in 1999 at a time when Major League Soccer’s future was every bit as sure as puppy dog’s ability to hold it long enough.

Today, Crew president Mark McCullers is talking about replacing the country’s first major, purpose-built professional soccer stadium. Facilities are built with a 30-40 year shelf life. For Crew Stadium, it’s definitely on the lower end. As the first one, it is understandably bare bones.

As such, it lacks most of the amenities (including some real money makers) now standard in MLS grounds. Said McCullers:

The stadium is 15 years old now. We don’t want to throw good money after bad. We need to start having the discussions about a longer term facility solution for us and that could take a variety of forms.

The pressure point here is an upcoming Mexico-United States qualifier. And where does the United States historically host Mexico for World Cup qualifiers? Crew Stadium in Columbus, of course. McCullers (along with everyone else around Ohio soccer, presumably) doesn’t want to lose these opportunities because the facility just isn’t what it needs to be.