The Columbus City Council approved a pledge of $50 million Monday to help build a new Columbus Crew stadium, and now state lawmakers want to provide an additional $15 million in taxpayer support.
As The Cincinnati Enquirer noted Tuesday, state lawmakers dismissed plans to provide FC Cincinnati $10 million in support earlier this year, but included $15 million in taxpayer money for a new Columbus Crew stadium in Senate Bill 51, which seeks to improve the shoreline along Lake Erie. The Statehouse News Bureau reports that the funding comes as part of an omnibus amendment that some are referring to as the “Christmas Tree” bill because lawmakers are latching on provisions during the lame-duck session.
Rep. Scott Ryan (R-Granville Township) acknowledged that “it’s a lot of money,” but didn’t think the $15 million was “at the same level that we’ve done for other sports in other cities.” Democratic Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire), meanwhile, objected to the bill, comparing it to his “wife’s Christmas tree,” because she “puts all the decorations on it,” and he “just gets to look at it.”
The bill ultimately passed out of committee Tuesday in a vote of 22-8, and will now head to the full Ohio House for a vote.
The former owner of the Columbus Crew announced last year that he wanted to relocate the team to Austin, Texas, and public pressure to keep the team in Ohio has been growing ever since. A “Save The Crew” group has been leading the charge to prevent relocation, and is urging Ohioans to pledge support for the team through purchasing season tickets.
Save The Crew has a self-described “group of fans who are working behind the scenes” to keep the team in Columbus, and currently has a staff of 15 working on the initiative. If passed by the House, Senate Bill 51 could keep the Columbus Crew in Ohio long-term because it would activate what is called the “Art Modell Law.”
Under that law, teams that receive government support cannot relocate without first receiving permission from the state government.
Franklin County has matched Columbus’ support of $50 million, putting total public support at a potential $115 million. The total cost of the new stadium, however, is estimated at $645 million.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photos “New Columbus Crew Stadium” by Rogers Krajnak Architects.