Columbus Crew Stadium
Columbus Crew Stadium is a soccer-specific stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

As a charter franchise in Major League Soccer (MLS), the Columbus Crew commenced play at Ohio Stadium in MLS's inaugural season of 1996. As it is principally an American football stadium, the facility was never popular with the team or its fans. When renovations to the American football stadium forced the Crew out, their owner, oil billionaire Lamar Hunt, decided to build the team its own dedicated home. Thus, Crew Stadium was born " purpose-built for the Columbus Crew in the winter of 1998-99. The construction cost of $28.5 million was covered entirely with private funds from Mr. Hunt and his Hunt Sports group. The facility seats 20,455 (with room to expand to 30,000 total seats for concerts) and is located on the grounds of the Ohio Expo Center and State Fairgrounds. Columbus Crew Stadium opened on May 15, 1999 with a match between the home side and the New England Revolution, with a seating capacity of 22,555. 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, Columbus Crew Stadium is considered the most influential stadium of the last decade stating " Who'd have thought when if opened in 1999 that Major League Soccer first purpose-built stadium would kick-start the wave of dedicated soccer specific stadiums that continue today?"

In addition to hosting the Crew's home games, the stadium has hosted numerous United States men's and women's national team matches (most notably, the 2001 World Cup Qualifier between the U.S. and Mexico known as La Guerra Fria due to sub-freezing temperatures), the 2001 MLS Cup championship, the 2000 and 2005 MLS All-Star Games, the 2001 and 2003 NCAA Men's College Cup national football championships, and the 2003 Women’s World Cup. It was the host stadium for the 2002 Major League Lacrosse championship game. Crew stadium has also hosted games for the Ohio High School State Championship tournaments in both American football and soccer. It also hosts the annual Westerville Football Classic, featuring the Westerville Central, Westerville North, Westerville South, and New Albany football teams. It has also been host to the local high school football rivalry of powers Bishop Watterson High School and St. Francis DeSales High School. Crew stadium also hosted the inaugural USA Sevens Rugby Collegiate Championship Invitational in 2010. The stadium also hosts numerous concerts annually, including Rock on the Range, an annual festival of performances by rock bands, and concerts by Rascal Flatts to close out the Ohio State Fair in 2006, 2007 and 2009. A permanent stage, built in 2008, has been constructed in the north end of the stadium to accommodate concerts after the closing of Germain Amphitheater. The addition replaces about 2,100 seats in the north end for soccer games.

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