Columbus Crew SC is an American professional soccer club based in Columbus, Ohio which competes in Major League Soccer (MLS). It is one of the ten charter clubs of MLS, having competed in the league since its inception. Crew SC is owned by Anthony Precourt and Precourt Sports Ventures LLC. Precourt became the second owner in the history of the club on July 30, 2013. The club's head coach is Gregg Berhalter, a former player of the United States men's national soccer team.
The club was founded in 1996 and originally known as the Columbus Crew, without any markers of its membership as a soccer club, until late 2014, when the club revealed a new logo and the addition of 'SC' to its moniker. The "SC" in the team moniker stands for Soccer Club, but the team name is officially "Columbus Crew SC".
Crew SC currently plays its home games at Mapfre Stadium (known as Columbus Crew Stadium until 2015), the first soccer-specific stadium ever built for a MLS team, with a seating capacity of 19,968 as of the 2014 season. From 1996 to 1998, Crew SC played its home games at Ohio Stadium on the campus of Ohio State University. In 2014, the club's 19th season at Crew Stadium, the Black & Gold set attendance records for both most cumulative attendance and most sellouts.
Crew SC has won five major trophies: MLS Cup 2008, the 2004, 2008, and 2009 Supporters' Shields, and the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Crew SC has qualified for the CONCACAF Champions League (or its predecessor, the CONCACAF Champions' Cup) three times, reaching the quarterfinals each time.
Mapfre Stadium (/ˈmɑːfreɪ/ mah-fray; styled as "MAPFRE Stadium"), previously known as Columbus Crew Stadium, is a soccer-specific stadium in Columbus, Ohio, United States. It primarily serves as the home stadium of the Columbus Crew SC of Major League Soccer. Built in 1999, it is the first soccer-specific stadium built for a professional soccer team in the second professional era of American soccer. The stadium is named for Madrid-based Mapfre Insurance after the company signed a sponsorship agreement announced on March 3, 2015. The listed seating capacity is 19,968.
In addition to Crew SC home games, Mapfre Stadium is also the site of a variety of additional events in amateur and professional soccer, American football, lacrosse, and rugby. The stadium is also a regular site for outdoor concerts due to the permanent stage in the north end zone.
Columbus Crew SC played their first three seasons at Ohio Stadium on the campus of the Ohio State University. During games, large sections of the stadium were blocked off to reduce capacity from approximately 90,000 to 25,243. Although the Crew enjoyed success at Ohio Stadium during their tenure there, the large seating capacity and limitations to the field size made the stadium ill-suited for soccer. Additionally, Ohio Stadium lacked permanent field lights. These problems, along with planned renovations to Ohio Stadium, which began in 1999, were all factors in the development of Mapfre Stadium. The construction cost of US$28.5 million was covered entirely with private funds from Crew owner and oil billionaire Lamar Hunt and his Hunt Sports group. It is located on the grounds of the Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds.
Mapfre Stadium opened on May 15, 1999 as Columbus Crew Stadium with a match between the home side and the New England Revolution. It is the first major league soccer-specific stadium in the United States, and has been credited with inspiring the wave of construction of soccer-specific stadiums throughout the league. In the 2010 Showcase issue of Stadia Magazine, Ian Nuttall stating "Who'd have thought when it opened in 1999 that Major League Soccer's first purpose-built stadium would kick-start the wave of dedicated soccer specific stadiums that continue today?" The seating capacity was originally 22,555 until 2008 when construction of a permanent stage in the north end zone reduced seating capacity to the current 20,455, with room to expand to 30,000 total seats for concerts.
After nearly 15 years of the stadium not having a corporate sponsor, the Crew announced naming rights were sold to Madrid-based Mapfre Insurance on March 3, 2015. The team had been searching to sell stadium naming rights since it opened in 1999, but had been unable to come to an agreement. Mapfre maintains an office in Columbus and has its U.S. base in Boston.