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Op-ed: Mapfre Stadium sucks, support sucks, Precourt doesn’t suck [that badly]

Steve Croyle

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Let’s be honest.

Anthony Precourt isn’t exactly a forthright individual, but his decision to move the Crew is sound from a business perspective. Despite the furor over his efforts to relocate to Austin, Columbus has not supported this team nearly as much as people are claiming. Attendance is consistently low, as is revenue. Success on the field means little because over the lifetime of the franchise, postseason attendance has been lower than regular season attendance.

Even Soccer Standings Digest referred to Crew attendance as a “free-fall.”

(Side note: We are not referring to those of you who have been season ticket holders since day one. Your support is not in question. But unfortunately, a small, dedicated group of Crew fans cannot carry the weight of the entire city.)

Why wouldn’t Precourt and MLS want to move?

Mapfre Stadium is a cheap, soccer-specific piece of crap, hastily erected at the fairgrounds because the Ohio Exposition Center could leverage a low cost lease into fleecing soccer fans for parking. They also banked on the MLS folding, and being able to buy a bargain arena for concerts during the Ohio State Fair. Mapfre is too small to afford the team and the MLS the seating potential required by today’s standards. Additionally, the location—which is isolated from everything other than a sketchy neighborhood, Lowes, and the State Trooper Training academy—is not conducive to stimulating attendance. It’s a detriment. Every week thousands of people talk themselves out of going to a game because it’s a drag. There are no bars or restaurants within walking distance for pre and post game festivities. There’s also no walk-up traffic, like you see at Huntington Park.

Columbus’s leaders dropped the ball, much like they did when Stone came calling. They were clueless about craft beer, just as they were clueless about the success the MLS is enjoying in other cities. The leaders of this community didn’t ask why other teams were drawing twice as many people to MLS games. They didn’t investigate if moving he Crew to the Arena district might help bring people downtown during the NHL’s offseason. Nope, they sat around scheming to give developers more tax breaks while the owner of the Crew had to figure out how to turn around a failing franchise. He’s no saint, but he definitely isn’t a villain.

Nobody wants to lose the Crew, but failing to be honest about why Precourt is trying to move the team isn’t going to solve the problem. We didn’t get behind the Crew until the team started packing its bags. That’s the only leverage the MLS and Precourt have. Precourt doesn’t owe us anything.

If we want to keep this team, we need to make things right. That starts with facing the truth.

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News

2 star Blue Jackets players say goodbye, fans react

Mitch Hooper

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The fears all season finally came to fruition for the Columbus Blue Jackets as star winger Artemi Panarin and star goalie Sergei Bobrovsky both signed to new teams on July 1, the first day of free agency in the NHL.

Panarin will be suiting up for the New York Rangers now as the highest paid winger in the league, reports ESPN. Bobrovsky took his talents to the Florida Panthers on a seven year contract, reports NHL.com. Additionally, center Matt Duchene signed with the Nashville Predators.

After the best playoff run in franchise history, both Panarin, affectionately known as The Bread Man, and Bobrovsky, Bob for short, took to social media to thank Columbus one last time before heading to their new squads.

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Bob was the first of the day to announce his move.

“I decided to move on. I write my own story and today that’s my decision. I want to thank fans from the bottom of my heart for all support and excitement during my 7 years in CBJ. I want to thank city of Columbus. This city has been treating me and my family very well, no matter what.”

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Dear CBJ fans I have decided to move on. It was very fun road. We have done lots of good things for my time in CBJ and wish this team and city nothing but the Best! Yes we didn’t reach our goal but we became a really good competitive team. I decided to move on. I write my own story and today that’s my decision. I want to thank fans from the bottom of my heart for all support and excitement during my 7 years in CBJ. I want to thank city of Columbus. This city has been treating me and my family very well, no matter what. I want to say thank to my teammates. I wouldn’t achieve anything without you guys. It’s been a pleasure to work and compete with you shoulder to shoulder. I want to say thank you to entire Blue Jackets organization, all coaches I worked with and everyone from the stuff. Columbus will stay in my heart forever. Дорогие фанаты CBJ. Я принял решение двигаться дальше. Это было интересное путешествие. Мы сделали много хороших вещей и я желаю Коламбусу дальнейшего развития и успехов. Да мы не добились главного, но мы стали сильной боеспособной командой. Я принял решение двигаться дальше. Каждый из нас пишет свою историю и сегодня это мое решение. От всего сердца я хочу поблагодарить вас за вашу поддержку и любовь за все время моего пребывания в CBJ. Я хочу поблагодарить город Коламбус за радушный приём. Я хочу поблагодарить своих партеров по команде. Без вас я ничего бы не добился. Для меня было большим удовольствием выходить на игры и бороться за победы плечом к плечу с вами. Хочу поблагодарить весь клуб Blue jackets, тренерский штаб и весь обслуживающий персонал. Коламбус навсегда останется жить в моем сердце.

A post shared by Sergei Bobrovsky (@sergeibobrovsky) on

Shortly after, Panarin announced his decision, too.

“I was very happy to play for Columbus. I hope you won’t be too mad at me😉 You live only once.”

And as always, fans had opinions. Some chose to focus on the good times we had. And, boy, were those times good.

Others weren’t as gentle. It’s all apart of the healing process, Columbus. We’ll get through this together. That being said, it seems like there’s different emotions for Panarin’s departure compared to Bob’s.

Example for Panarin:

Compared to Bob:

But in reality, this pretty much sums up all of yesterday for Jackets fans.

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Opinion

OP: Columbus is better than Boston, change my mind

Mitch Hooper

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I’m no hockey expert, but then again, I’m not ignorant to the sport. I’m aware of what boarding is, I know when an icing call should be made, and I can see a high stick from a mile away. C’mon, give me some credit, I’m a mid-20s-year-old boy who owns an X-Box—I’ve played NHL a time or two. I say all that to say this: Columbus is so much better than Boston.

Don’t misconstrue my vast hockey knowledge with my bold statement. I’m not saying Columbus is better than Boston in the sense of athletes on the ice (although my 2013 franchise mode on NHL says Columbus is the best damn hockey team six years running), I’m saying our city is better. Our fans are better. Our beer is better. Have you ever actually enjoyed a Sam Adams lager? Hell no.

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I understand I can’t make these claims without backing them up, so I did some unbiased research and my results were incredible. If you aren’t sitting down, you might want to now.

And as if that database of information wasn’t persuasive enough, here’s an entire press conference of unbiased sports experts carefully explaining their case.

It’s compelling, I know.

The facts go even deeper. Have you ever seen a Bostonian on the moon? Or orbit the planet? Point one for John Glenn and Columbus. Neil Armstrong isn’t from Columbus, but he’s a tried and true Ohioan and that counts in our books. Half point to Columbus? We’ll take it. All the numbers are adding up and it’s clear as day: Columbus is better than Boston.

The Columbus Blue Jackets take on the Boston Bruins on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Boston. The game will be aired on NBCS.

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Sports

Twitter Reacts: CBJ sweep Lightning in historic win

Mike Thomas

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Last night, the Columbus Bluejackets finished their perfect sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning with an emphatic game four win in Nationwide arena. It was without question the single biggest win in franchise history, sending the Jackets to the second round of the playoffs for the first time ever. But of course, you already knew that.

For your consideration (and to soothe your post-celebration hangover/exhaustion) here’s a roundup of some of the spiciest memes and reactions to the Jackets big win!

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