Mayor Message

Media Relations Team

Melanie Crabill
Director of Media Relations
[email protected]

Kevin Kilbane
Director of Communications
[email protected]

News Releases

July 15, 2022

On Dec. 5, 2018, I stood with neighborhood advocates, community activists, faith leaders, and representatives of organized labor and the Columbus business community to announce the city’s investment in a plan that would ultimately ensure the Columbus Crew stayed in Columbus.

While the “Save the Crew” movement became a rallying cry for soccer fans, the public-private partnership was always about more than soccer. It was about what was best for our community.

The City committed $50 million to the project, though zero dollars went to the construction of a new downtown stadium. Rather, our dollars were tied to very specific goals:

  • Infrastructure to support job creation, economic development and new income tax revenue;
  • Affordable housing as part of the development planned around the new stadium;
  • Historic minority participation in the construction of the new stadium;
  • Investment in a new training facility and assurance that Historic Crew Stadium did not become the largest vacant and abandoned building in Columbus, but was repurposed for productive use;
  • Construction of a Community Sports Park that would serve as a destination for youth sports, and provide multigenerational opportunities for parks and recreation.

By almost all accounts, the public-private partnership to “Save the Crew” has been a striking success, and we have fulfilled all of the commitments – except one. The one outstanding commitment is the construction of a Community Sports Park planned for the state fairgrounds, adjacent to the Crew’s training facility.

The City has worked in earnest to secure a lease to the site. But the Ohio Expositions Commission has refused to grant a lease.

While we leave open the door open for negotiations with the state and remain prepared to invest recreation facilities on the fairgrounds site, the community has waited long enough. So I was happy to announce that we are advancing plans for a new, enhanced community sports at Kilbourne Run in the Northeast part of the city. We will be investing millions of dollars to enhance this 69-acre site to create an experience more than four times the size of what was possible at the fairgrounds.

What’s more, we’re pleased to move forward in partnership with the Crew to deliver fields and facilities that will increase access to soccer and other field sports for Columbus kids, and position Columbus as a destination for regional tournaments.

We heard from the community how pleased they are with being able to move forward:

“We are super excited to hear that additional/upgraded soccer facilities will be added into the Columbus area due to the help of the city, as there is a shortage of quality fields.  Additionally, anything that promotes the game or aids in player development is a win for the community.” - Jeffrey Warren, President of Sporting Columbus

“While I am disappointed in the state for not fulfilling their commitment, praise to the City for finding a way to engage young people from across the city in youth sports.” - Linden resident George Walker

“I look forward to expanding our relationship with the City of Columbus, the Recreation and Parks Department, and the Crew to bring more sports facilities and programming to our community. Within our Strategic Plan, we made addressing the needs of the whole-child a priority, and this collaboration does that. Access ensures that our students have opportunities to grow, not just academically but physically, socially, and emotionally. I cannot stress enough the power of partnerships to empower our students and revitalize our neighborhoods.” Dr. Talisa Dixon, Superintendent of Columbus City Schools

But our announcement yesterday went much further than Kilbourne Run. We also committed to pickleball courts at community centers throughout the city – including a three-season tournament court at Mock Park. Design work is starting for the Broad St. Arts Campus that will combine programming from the Martin Jannis Center and Golden Hobby Shop into one location with multigenerational appeal. And in a phased-in approach, we’re also looking at building an aquatics center at the Howard Community Center in Northeast Columbus in collaboration with Columbus City Schools.

Elwood Rayford, longtime resident in the Northeast area who has been asking for improvements to the area, was thrilled at the possibility. “I appreciate the investments being made and feel like I have been heard,” he said.

I am thrilled, too, Mr. Rayford, with our partnership with the Crew as well as improvements to recreation sites throughout the city.