COLUMBUS, Ohio. September 19, 2020 (The Columbus Dispatch) — Stamped with the Columbus Crew SC name and the signatures of club staff and players, the final steel beam was raised to the top of the Ohio Health Performance Center on the west side of Mapfre Stadium on Friday afternoon to commemorate an ending of one phase of construction on the club’s new training facility.
On schedule to open June 2021, about a month before the new downtown stadium opens next year, the $30 million training facility will be 42,000 square feet with three fields for the Crew and one for the Crew Academy youth teams. Both the first team and academy will have their own locker rooms, lounges, training and workout rooms at the facility with a full dining area and kitchen. The first team will have its own sleep and recovery room in addition to a hydrotherapy area.
Crew chief business officer Steve Lyons said the next phase of the project being constructed by Corna Kokosing will be enclosing the facility while work continues on the fields. “This is going to mean the world of difference to our players,” Lyons said. “This represents the new Crew era that we’re building together with our players.”
The Crew broke ground on the training facility in June, a little more than three months after announcing the naming rights to Ohio Health for the performance center. Lyons, president and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, director of player personnel and strategy Issa Tall, academy director Kelvin Jones and co-owner Dr. Pete Edwards were at the ceremony representing the Crew front office.
Crew players Vito Wormgoor and Aidan Morris, a former academy player, attended and signed the beam, as well representatives from Ohio Health and Corna Kokosing. Tall was one of the leading players in deciding what was needed to make the performance center state-of-the-art and one of the best in Major League Soccer. “His wealth of experience across the globe has been instrumental to thinking about it from a player’s perspective,” Lyons said.
Tall said he and the club took ideas from Tottenham Hotspur in England, Aspire Academy in Qatar, and FC Krasnodar in Russia, among others. “The Haslam family and the Edwards family have been very supportive on all the asks that we had,” Tall said. “Everything that we asked for, we got it.” During the winter months, the Crew currently isn’t able to train at its facility in Obetz, due to inclement weather.
In winter 2021, the Crew will have a bubble over the Mapfre Stadium field that will allow the team to practice under normal conditions in the offseason. Tall said the ability to have Mapfre Stadium essentially connected to the stadium and to be just a short drive from the airport and downtown makes the new facility apart from others.
“I challenge you to find any facility in MLS or in the world that has such a historic stadium attached to it,” Tall said. “When you look around the facilities in MLS and around the world, they’re usually on the outskirt of the city. This is just a great setting.”