The current owner of Columbus Crew SC Anthony Precourt shocked the MLS and United States soccer community when he announced that the Crew may possibly to relocate Austin, Texas in 2019.
Precourt told numerous reporters that he wants to move the team because of attendance at games, with the Crew’s attendance rate ranking 20th out of league’s 22 teams. Despite low ranking in attendance, Mapfre Stadium, formerly know as Crew Stadium, is a staple in the soccer community.
Mapfre Stadium was the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States. U.S. National Teams played here multiple times. When the Men’s National Team played against Mexico, tens of thousands of people travel to Columbus to attend the game. Mapfre Stadium also hosts a variety of non-soccer related events like Rock on The Range, and local high school football games.
When this devastating announcement was released Crew SC, the team was preparing for the knockout stage against Atlanta FC. The momentum was on Columbus’ side because they were on a 10-game winning streak entering the playoffs. During the game, Crew players were playing with a huge chip on their shoulder; they were playing for their city and the fans of Columbus.
A fan from Atlanta FC showed the team support by creating a captain’s band that said “Beat the Crew, save the Crew.”
Columbus fought hard and defeated Atlanta FC in epic fashion with the match ending in penalty kicks, 3-1, to advance to the semi-finals. First leg of the semi-finals was played in Columbus on Halloween night against New York FC. It was a treat for Columbus fans who went to the game or watched it online as they saw the home team win in cruising fashion, 4-1. Throughout the game, the fans were chanting “Save The Crew.”
A social media movement was started by Morgan Hughes on Twitter when he created the hashtag #SaveTheCrew, and it was trending a few days following its creation. Tom Davis, who is a very active Crew supporter, bought the domain savethecrew.com after being inspired from the hashtag. The main objective of the website was to connect fans together. The hashtag from Twitter started connecting people all over Columbus that led to a group chat, which resulted in the creation of the Save The Crew organization. This organization sparked and lead nationwide campaign. The organization had an active and growing social media presence.
Hughes and other core members of the group met at Endeavor Brewing Company, another local establishment in Columbus. They were joined by multiple leaders from Nordecke, a large support group for the Crew who had not yet released a statement, or arranged any sort of public event. After their meeting with Hughes, the Nordecke leaders released a statement, making a call to action. On Oct. 21, they organized a rally at City Gall, which they expected several hundred fans to attend, but they were wrong. There were more than 2,000 fans that arrived at City Hall. Steve Sirk, a Columbus-based writer helped the rally by contacting former Crew players and scheduling them to speak at the rally.
After the rally ended on Sunday afternoon, Crew-related banners and signs popped up at multiple MLS stadiums that were hosting Decision Day matches. Throughout social media, there have been signs and banners at other sporting events and other soccer leagues, one at an overseas match that showed support of the Crew.
City Council is now involved in the movement after Hughes spoken in front of it last week. Mainstream media was aware of Save the Crew moment when people brought banners and signs during ESPN College GameDay on Oct. 28. The MLS and U.S. soccer community are linked together trying to keep the Columbus Crew in Columbus, Ohio.