No one is more familiar with the fine points of Columbus Crew SC's new stadium project than co-owner Dee Haslam, who stopped by the latest episode of MLSsoccer.com's The Call Up to discuss, among other topics, the status of the in-progress venue and her vision for it when it all finally comes to fruition.
The facility, New Columbus Crew stadium, is under construction in downtown Columbus and remains on track for an early July opening, Haslam told hosts Susannah Collins and Jillian Sakovits, with the field itself only part of what the club has in store when it opens.
"It's really, really better than we ever thought it would be," Haslam said. "It's unique and exciting and we can't wait to get it open and start playing our first match there."
Haslam gave a glimpse into the Crew ownership group's broader goals with the facility, which expand beyond creating a world-class soccer-specific stadium. The ultimate vision, Haslam said, is for the surrounding area to become a multi-faceted neighborhood that can act as a destination for the whole community.
Astor Park is the name of the mixed-use neighborhood, which will be adjacent to New Crew Stadium.
"I think one of the first things we thought about is, 'How do we create a neighborhood that has something going on all the time?'" Haslam said. "In other words, the plaza and the surrounding areas around the stadium are just integral parts of the community and there's events and fairs, people come and sit and have lunch and it becomes a really wonderful part of downtown, so that was our first goal.
"We started out with let's design the stadium so there's this incredible plaza and there's this fabulous beer garden, there's areas around it where people will sit and wander and walk. We started there and then we said, 'Let's make something iconic for Columbus'. So, we feel like it's tremendous."
The impending opening is part of an exciting 2021 for the club, which is coming off its second-ever MLS cup title and got its Concacaf Champions League campaign off to a roaring start with an emphatic 4-0 victory over Nicaraguan side Real Esteli on Thursday.