#SaveTheCrew movement questions why Columbus Crew SC rejected free land

Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Photo Date: 7/26/15 (Columbus Crew SC / Facebook)
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COLUMBUS -- The Schottenstein Real Estate Group says it will not move forward with development plans it had next to Huntington Park, so it offered up the land to the Columbus Crew SC for free.

The company says that offer was not pursued, but a Crew team spokesman says officials had conversations with the real estate company.

Now, members of the Save the Crew movement say they are confused why free, downtown land was rejected.

Rush hour traffic at Neil and Vine is no joke.

It's one of the reasons why a local developer won't build on the empty land next to Huntington Park and neither will the Columbus Crew SC.

"The thing that they put forth at first as a reason for potentially leaving Columbus was not having a downtown stadium," one of the Save the Crew leaders Morgan Hughes said.

The decision not to put a soccer stadium in the Arena District is confusing to the hundreds of people, like Morgan Hughes, who are trying to the Crew in the city.

"One would assume, based on their talking points that once that happened we would have broken ground on a new stadium so a lot of us are standing around going, where are our shovels," Hughes said.

The Schottenstein Real Estate Group had plans to develop the area by Huntington Park into Grand Central, a resort style district full of shops, restaurants, and living.

The company said it won't move forward because the property has severe development restrictions, including defective access, railroad tracks in impeding locations with no ability for any crossings, and major traffic problems.

The group says it initiated a meeting with an officer of the Columbus Crew and offered free land to the sports franchise, indicating that the company would work deal with municipal governments for a discounted and fair reimbursement plan.

"This rejection of free land in the Arena District makes you question whether or not that's reality in the situation," Hughes said.

In a release, the real estate company said:

"This was a bold offer of free land to gauge the Crew's interest and "Save the Crew," but was not pursued by the Crew, due to the inability for a stadium to fit on the site and/or probably because of the issues stated above."

Hughes doesn't get why.

"It doesn't seem to be happening, so we're confused," Hughes said.

A Columbus Crew SC spokesman said a text exchange between the Crew SC President of Business Operations and the Schottenstein Real Estate Group earlier this month, suggested the soccer team was interested in the property.

The spokesman says in the exchange, the Crew gave Schottenstein stadium dimensions to overlay on the Arena District land.

The real estate company responded, saying it didn't look like it could fit on the property.

"We're gonna save this team because we have deemed it necessary," Hughes said.

Hughes says another obstacle like this, won't stop the movement to Save the Crew.

"We're going to win this battle. Just believe that until you hear otherwise," Hughes said.

Crew officials declined to comment any further.