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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)
Say goodbye to everyone's favorite smoke-emitting scoreboard.
More than nine months after the scoreboard at Crew Stadium caught fire, investor-operator Anthony Precourt announced the video board will be replaced as part of multimillion dollar renovations to the 15-year-old stadium.
The highlight of the list of upgrades is a new, high-definition video board that is more than double the size of the one that survived a fire that started inside the speaker cabinets before a game against D.C. United on March 23.
"It enhances our perception," Crew president Mark McCullers said. "We went from being the newest facility in the market to being the oldest facility in the market. We're still the oldest facility in the market, but the fan experience expectations have risen, and this allows us to keep pace with what fans are experiencing visually in other venues."
The new video board will fit within the structure of the current system and will measure nearly 17 feet by 66 feet. Video ribbons will be added around the stadium, and improvements will be made to the home team's locker room.
In addition, the Crew has begun upgrading three sections of seating on the East side of the stadium. All renovations are scheduled to be completed before the Crew's home opener on March 22 against Philadelphia.
McCullers said one of the hopes is that the new scoreboard will help the team find a naming-rights partner for Crew Stadium.
"There's continued steady progress with a couple of prospects that have come along," he said. "It's a small universe of people who are prospects for this type of deal. I'm still cautiously optimistic for 2014 as the year that we get it done."
To make the improvements, McCullers said the team worked with official sponsor Heartland Bank on a capital-financing package to reduce the effect on the team's cash flow. The financing will allow the Crew to minimize the impact of stadium improvement on funds for player acquisitions, priorities Precourt is aggressively pursuing.
"It's all related," McCullers said. "It's about building the business and creating resources that can be put back into players and into being a winner. It's connected."
The move also reaffirms the Crew's status at Crew Stadium instead of pushing for a new facility.
"Certainly for the near and intermediate term I would say," McCullers said. "We need to build business here. If and when the stadium discussion takes place, it's going to be far enough down the road that we can't lose track of what's going on here."