Neighbors At Last: Columbus Blue Jackets Provide A Warm Welcome To MLS' Crew In Club's Inaugural Arena District Match

By Ed Francis on July 5, 2021 at 8:20 am
The Columbus Blue Jackets, Crew, and Clippers are now all Arena District neighbors.
Barbara J. Perenic/The Columbus Dispatch

Once destined for Texas, the Columbus Crew played their inaugural game Saturday at the brand new Field.

The Columbus Blue Jackets wasted no time in welcoming their new neighbors to the Arena District.

The Blue Jackets aren't strangers to welcoming other clubs to the area. After opening Nationwide Arena in 2000, the club spent nine years as the sole sports destination in the downtown area. In the spring of 2009, the Columbus Clippers opened Huntington Park and the two have had a friendly relationship in the years since.

Saturday's inaugural game at Field, attended by several members of the Blue Jackets, was the final step of a long journey for the Crew and their supporters.

Word broke in October of 2017 that former owner Anthony Precourt was intent on moving the team to Austin, Texas for the 2019 season if a new stadium could not be built downtown. The demand for a new stadium was widely seen as a farce, as Precourt, who purchased the team in 2013, seemingly had no desire to keep the team in Columbus with or without a new stadium.

Supporters of the team, led by fan Morgan Hughes, immediately started an online movement known as #SaveTheCrew. Within days, the Twitter hashtag took off, and a little over a year after the team was on their way out the door, it was announced that Jimmy and Dee Haslam, owners of the Cleveland Browns, would purchase the team and leave them in Columbus. A new stadium - now known as Field - would soon follow.

Amongst the players in tune with the Crew over the weekend was Max Domi, acquired in an offseason trade last year by Columbus. With the pandemic keeping fans out of Nationwide Arena to start the year and then welcome in only limited capacity by the end of the season, Domi is yet to experience the 5th Line as a member of the Blue Jackets.

Saturday provided a taste of what this fall will look like.

 Now if only the Blue Jackets could borrow some of the Crew's success.