Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
Lower.com Field 96 Columbus Crew Way Columbus, OH 43215
Year Opened: 2022
The House the Fans Built
There was a time when the thought of the Columbus Crew relocating elsewhere was a reality, but after a campaign to keep the club in town and a new ownership group, the result would be the $314 million Lower.com Field for the club to call home. The 20,371-seat venue is located in the Arena District next to Huntington Park and a few blocks west of Nationwide Arena.
The stadium offers a field with a hydroponic heater that can raise the field temperature by 20 degrees if needed and water can drain in less than 3 minutes. The Nordecke supporters section is the steepest and second-largest of its kind in the MLS while offering a beer garden on the concourse.
Access has been improved with facilities a few steps away from the seating bowl and views of the pitch in a majority of the venue. The canopy roof directs the sound of the crowd directly back into the stadium, perfect for home matches for the Crew and the US Men’s National Team.
The structure’s design will blend into the future 33-acre Astor Park neighborhood that will develop the underused land into a live, work, and play development over the next few years. The site will feature 404 residential apartments, a 2.5-acre riverfront park, outdoor pavilions, retail shops, and public art once completed.
Lower.com Field replaced Historic Crew Stadium, the first soccer-specific facility in the MLS in 1999, located 4 miles away at the state fairgrounds. The team played its last game on June 18, 2021, and waved goodbye to an old friend that put the city on the map in terms of professional sports. However, let’s look at the future of soccer in the city and what the new venue has to offer fans in attendance.
Food & Beverage 5
The food and beverage feature local establishments offering menu items throughout the stadium, almost 40 percent. Schmidt’s Sausage Haus and Restaurant, Preston’s: A Burger Joint, Dirty Frank’s, Dos Hermanos, Hot Chicken Takeover, Barrio Tacos, Crafter Culture Brewing, Legacy Smokehouse, and Donatos Pizza are among the choices for fans.
The hot chicken sandwiches and pieces are plump and juicy, the brisket looks like it was smoked in Texas, the hot dogs and burgers are juicy, and the street tacos are served with roasted jalapenos. There is a healthy dose of local and national breweries that feature Land-Grant Brewing Company, Platform Beer Company, and Rhinegiest.
A few highlights include the haystack from Pit Masters, which is mac and cheese with your choice of pulled pork or brisket and crushed corn chips. There is also the spicy Bahama Mama from Schmidt’s served al carte or with a side of German potato salad and sauerkraut. Also, be sure to save room for one of the company’s famous jumbo cream puffs. Dirty Frank’s has a Hot Frankie topped with coney sauce, cheddar cheese, sriracha cream cheese, and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
The options here are luxurious compared to other venues but also follow trends at many newer MLS grounds. Long lines form at the 42 numerous locations on the stadium’s concourse, along with a few grab-and-go spots for fans on the run. It should be noted that the prices are a tad higher for these local products, but you are also paying for the quality of the product.
Lower.com Field offers many vantage points throughout the 360º concourse, including rows 13 feet closer to the field. The stadium’s distinct feature is the large canopy roof that covers every seat in the house. The black steel design replaces the standard floodlights and features an angular pattern that connects to the club’s crest. It also helps reverberate noise back to the pitch for home-field advantage.
Another mass area is the Nordecke supporter’s section which seats 3,364 people. The seating area features a rake of 34 to 37 degrees, about 70 percent steeper than the Crew old home. It is where the soul of the stadium is, with supporters waving flags, banging drums, and leading the stadium into their rendition of the Elvis classic “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” before every match.
Underneath the Nordecke is a beer garden that is a spot where fans can sit down on bench tables and eat and drink their food before the game. The area features trees and is open to the public during the day when the Crew is not playing. It’s the first beer garden specifically designed for a supporters club in the league.
The southwest plaza is home to pregame festivities that include concerts, games, children’s activities, and photo ops with the Crew official mascots – Crew Cat and S.C. The area is utilized on non-game days and house watch parties when applicable. The Crew House Pub and team shop are located in this corner of the stadium. The pub can hold anywhere between 250 to 300 people and opens before the game and non-game days.
There are two scoreboards on the north and south ends of the stadium; the biggest is 24 feet tall and 104 feet wide. There are family spaces that include two sensory rooms, two nursery rooms, and a 1,000-square-foot playroom. Five premium areas include 34 suites on the west end of the stadium and 1,900 club suites. The Lower Lounge has 10 bunker-style luxury suites with seats at eye level to the pitch and an outdoor patio with fireplaces.
Lower.com Field is part of the Arena District that includes the home of the Columbus Clippers baseball team Huntington Park and the home of the Columbus Blue Jackets hockey club Nationwide Arena. The district offers mixed-used plan development of residential and retail space. There are more than 22 different eateries and bars located within a few steps of the building that are hopping before and after the game.
The R Bar is the official hockey watering hole that sits across a small pedestrian bridge offering 16 beers on tap and 32 bottles and cans. Goodwood Brewery and Restaurant and Whistle & Key are also in this area providing outdoor seating and plenty of people-watching. If with the kids, Boston’s Pizza and Ted’s Montana Grill are two nearby choices. The indoor and outdoor concert venue KEMBA Live! and A&R Music Bar is located next to the arena, which provides an ideal later-night atmosphere.
The future 33-acre Astor Park neighborhood will develop the underused land into a live, work, and play development over the next few years. Once completed, the site will feature 404 residential apartments, a 2.5-acre riverfront park, outdoor pavilions, retail shops, and public art.
The colors black and yellow are dominant with the majority of the fans at the game. The Crew supporters and fans proved their loyalty by saving the team from relocating to Austin a few years ago. It provides a great soundtrack to the stadium’s atmosphere, and the Nordeck supporters are at the center of the revelry. Check them out as they march down Nationwide Blvd. and blow off a little yellow smoke along the way, expect to see that after a goal.
Getting inside the stadium is becoming easier with facial recognition ticketing, turnstiles where fans can scan their phones to enter, and wands to check for metal objects in their pocket without going through a security checkpoint. The menu options include frictionless and touchless environments.
Return on Investment 4
The price of a ticket on the secondary market averages close to $39 plus taxes and fees. It also depends on the opponent, with FC Cincinnati tickets commanding a $64 fee. There are 6,300 parking spaces within a 10-minute walk with prices between $20 and $25 per vehicle. The beer and drink prices are somewhat on the high side but on par with other MLS venues. Fans should not see a huge sticker shock on menu options inside the building for top-quality foods.
Lower.com Field earns a point for the largest supporters section in the league, the Nordecke. The area is steep and comes in at a 34-degree rake, among the steepest in the MLS. Another point of the beer garden is for fans to have a seat and enjoy something to eat and drink. The Southeast Plaza is a fantastic spot for pre-game festivities, concerts, games, and a chance to get ready for the match. A final point is for the canopied seating that protects every fan in their seat.
The Columbus Crew has a fine-looking soccer facility that provides fantastic views of the pitch, quality food, a boisterous atmosphere, and a passionate fanbase. The neighborhood around the facility will blossom in the coming years, making it quite the experience for hometown fans and first-time visitors. The original club in the MLS is right where they belong.