On June 15, 1994, Major League Soccer announced that Columbus, Ohio, would be home to one of the ten founding members of the new top-flight North American professional soccer league. Columbus had promised construction of a soccer-specific stadium and had sold over 12,000 season-ticket deposits. The team was tentatively named the Columbus Eclipse in its application to the league, as a solar eclipse had passed over the city after reaching the league’s 10,000-deposit minimum, but it was eventually renamed the Crew.
MLS investor Lamar Hunt and his son Clark became the owners of both the Columbus Crew and Kansas City Wizards in 1996. The first players for the Crew were South African national team veteran Doctor Khumalo, by assignment, and Brian McBride. McBride was selected as the first overall pick in MLS’s first draft in 1996. Former U.S. National Team coach Timo Liekoski would be the team’s head coach for its first season.
The Crew played their first game on April 13, 1996, in front of a home crowd of 25,266 in Ohio Stadium against D.C. United and won 4–0. Columbus would struggle, however, winning only 5 of their next 21 games. After the 6–16 start, Tom Fitzgerald replaced head coach Liekoski. The Crew, under Fitzgerald, won 9 of their last 10 games to finish fourth in the Eastern Conference. They went on to lose in the conference playoff semi-finals.
The franchise was founded in 1994 as simply the Columbus Crew. Since 1999, the Crew has played home games at Mapfre Stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium ever built for an MLS team, with a seating capacity of 19,968 as of the 2015 season. From 1996 to 1998, the Crew played its home games at Ohio Stadium on the campus of the Ohio State University. In 2014, the team set club attendance records for both most cumulative attendance and most sellouts.
1996 – Present / Major League Soccer
2015 – Present / Columbus Crew SC
1996 – 2014 / Columbus Crew
Columbus Crew SC – On October 8, 2014, the Precourt ownership changed the name and logo of the club, changing the name from “Columbus Crew” to “Columbus Crew SC.”
MLS Cups 0
2016 – Present / Mapfre Stadium
1999 – 2015 / Columbus Crew Stadium
1996 – 1999 / Ohio Stadium
2018 – Present / Jimmy Haslam, Dee Haslam, Peter H. Edwards Jr., and other investors (Columbus Partnership)
2013 – 2018 / Anthony Precourt (Precourt Sports Ventures LLC)
2006 – 2013 / Clark Hunt
1995 – 2006 / Lamar Hunt
*Blue is this team’s history