Columbus Crew stadium opening delayed, team exec says it’ll still be great in indescribable ways

The Columbus Crew‘s new downtown stadium, which is getting $90 million or so in cash grants and tax breaks to replace the Crew’s 20-year-old non-downtown stadium, now won’t open until at the earliest July 2021, instead of at the start of the 2021 season, because reasons. (“Some paperwork needs to be finished,” according to the Columbus Dispatch.) Which is maybe interesting to diehard MLS fans, but far more interesting to me is what team president Tim Bezbatchenko said about the new stadium’s impact when it finally does open:

″[The stadium is] going to change the trajectory of this club forever,” Bezbatchenko said. “There’s going to be so many ancillary positive consequences to this that you can’t even approximate and can’t guess about in terms of the culture change that the fans are going to go through.”

That is a lot of buzzy words; let’s attempt to unpack them:

  • Change the trajectory of this club forever: This sounds like a vague promise that the Crew will stop losing quite so many games once they get a new stadium, which is questionable in any sport, but doubly so in one with a single-entity ownership model where team owners don’t get to plow profits directly back into improving the club.
  • So many ancillary positive consequences to this that you can’t even approximate: “Ancillary” means “subordinate” or “supplementary,” so here Bezbatchenko is presumably talking about things outside of actually playing and watching soccer. Or not talking about them, as the case may be, since he says he can’t even begin to guess about them! Though there will be very many of them, of that he is sure!
  • The culture change that the fans are going to go through: “Culture change” is one of those terms that business management types love to throw around, and here is presumably a reference to the shift to a more urban location. How exactly that would significantly change things from the “drive to game, watch game, drive home” model isn’t entirely clear — Columbus is famously the largest American city without a rail transit system — but again, clearly it’ll be yuge!

All of these would have been outstanding followup questions for the Dispatch, or really for any other reporters interested in reporting and not just taking stenography. It really can’t be overstated how much the functioning of anything like a democratic system depends on robust media outlets to shed light on what’s going on. In the absence of that, we just get a whole lot of press releases, and I guess comment sections of people complaining about the press releases, which is okay but not precisely the same thing. So if you have a local (or even non-local) media outlet that is doing a decent job, please send them some money, because just imagine what it would be like if news coverage got even worse than it is already.

9 comments on “Columbus Crew stadium opening delayed, team exec says it’ll still be great in indescribable ways

  1. Look at the bright side of the announcement since “this stadium will change the trajectory of this club forever” there is no need for a new stadium ever.

    • It sounds extra-grifty when you consider they are moving like 3-4 miles.

      Who knew an army of soccer fans who don’t go to game now just drew a line in the sand about how far they are willing to travel to watch a soccer game.

  2. Not sure I think the tidbit about Columbus being the largest city without passenger rail has been true for very long.

    • Ten seconds of googling turned up that it’s been true since at least 2013:

      • Ah, I guess I also don’t really count the seldom used Amtrack lines in some of places relevant to the question. Long haul passenger rail isn’t really different from air travel. Just trading time for money, and not even that much money.

  3. MLS teams do get to put some of their own money into the team via designated players, and that can make a big difference.

  4. FYI The linked article discussing MLS’s single-entity structure focuses on player acquisition. That’s not the whole story. This article goes into more detail about the business model.

    It’s more complicated than the lawinsport article makes it out to be.

  5. The MAJOR benefit of single entity has always been player cost containment, and even that has been eroded by loopholes and workarounds.

    There are and have been other benefits in terms of sponsorships and economies of scale. But it is simply not true to say that because of single-entity, all your profits get tithed to MLS, LLC. They don’t.

    Now we can totally debate the efficacy of a new stadium on a club’s “trajectory,” whatever TF that even means. But that’s just the kind of hyperbolic word salad people who are grifting large sums of money from the populace always use.

    I mean, you operate in a world where that’s always true. The economic benefits are overstated, the downsides are downplayed and never is heard a discouraging word. It was only a matter of time before they had to raise back on the tangible and start hyping trajectories and ancillary nonsense.