I just returned from Columbus, Ohio, where our Baptist denomination's annual meeting took place. One of the places I wanted to visit while I was there was (1) the Ohio State University, and (2) MAPFRE Stadium, home of MLS' Columbus Crew SC. If I were to pick a team from the Eastern Conference that I pull for, the Crew would easily be my top pick. I like their soccer culture (after all, they are not Football Club, but Soccer Club) and the steps their ownership is taking to make them a quality club.
But you need not remind me that this is a Colorado Rapids blog, not a Crew SC blog. Back to the Burgundy! I read with great interest and agreement what our fellow Burgundy Wave writer wrote about the positives of Sporting Kansas City's domicile and how we should emulate what they do with developing the area around Dick's Sporting Goods Park. That's what they should do. However...
MAPFRE Stadium has hosted some glorious friendlies between the USA and Mexico along with other notable matches (not the least of which is the 2000 and 2005 MLS All-Star Game Presented by Whoever It Was in 2000 and 2005. Yet, I got off I-670 off exit 110A, turned left, then turned right about a mile up the road.
All that surrounded MAPFRE Stadium was tons of parking lot, with a school and the Ohio History Center and Expo Center close by--and that's it. No shops (except for the shop that sold the Crew Gear at the stadium (where I picked up my obligatory scarf), just concrete and more concrete. And yet, they've held some memorable matches that to which supporters show up in droves to watch iconic matches.
I'm encouraged because that could be, should be, and must be us. Two All-Star Games, Snow Clasico, and certainly more matches to come will turn DSGP into a go-to place. And I hope that the sign that is displayed at the entrance would be true for us: "This is our Fortress." This could be, should be, must be a place to which opponents dread coming--with the altitude, the fans, as well as the players and coaching staff.
Knowing little about the Columbus Crew's soccer culture, I know this: that stadium is not in an active locale, but they've made it a go-to place for a number of venues. Let's make MLS and the USSF aware that we are a place that should be and must be on their radar. If it can happen in Columbus, it can happen here.