State lawmakers have proposed sending $15 million to the Columbus Crew to help build their new stadium in an effort to ensure the team could never be moved without striking a deal with government leaders.
Lawmakers believe the appropriation would trigger the “Art Modell Law” which says a team that plays most of its home games in a stadium supported by public money cannot relocate without government approval.
“It’s state money, financial assistance going directly into the stadium,” says Rep. Mike Duffey (R-Worthington), a vocal supporter of the Columbus Crew in the Statehouse. “Between that and also the local government money, it’s more than MAPFRE ever had and I think MAPFRE was a very strong case as well.”
MAPFRE Stadium is the current home to the Columbus Crew SC.
Last year, the Crew’s current owner Anthony Precourt announced he planned to move the team to Austin. That sparked the #SaveTheCrew movement with fans, businesses, and policymakers working to keep the team in Columbus.
“I think this is actually, literally the moment that they will be saved,” Duffey says.
The city of Columbus and Franklin County have also announced it would put $50 million each towards the new stadium.
The project would be a 20,000-seat soccer stadium and community sports park tallying up to $645 million with office and residential space included. The development would be in Downtown Columbus, west of Huntington Park and Nationwide Arena.
The bill with its list of amendments must be approved by the full Ohio House and Senate chambers before going to Gov. John Kasich.