Today, Columbus Crew SC released striker…er, striking new renderings of the hard-fought downtown stadium project.
The 20,000-capacity venue is slated to feature four stands with various seating features, a wraparound roof (to provide protection over each stand and amplify the noise), a closed seating bowl, a 360-degree concourse, and an events space.
For the spirited Nordecke fans, the new downtown stadium will offer a 3,400-capacity standing section with two patio decks and a designated “Nordecke Beer Garden”—the first supporters’ beer garden in Major League Soccer.
And on non-match days, customers can patronize the stadium’s 5,000-square-foot brew hall with “open views to the entrance plaza and downtown to support a variety of local community events,” according to a fact sheet from the team per Columbus Business First.
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“Our goal is for Crew SC’s new downtown stadium to be among the top sports facilities in the nation,” said Crew SC President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “We see our new home as becoming an integral part of Columbus’ downtown. Because of this, we are building a modern facility that is rooted in the culture created by our supporters in order to provide an experience that champions soccer in Columbus. The investments and input from The Haslam and Edwards Families have helped shape renderings for a stadium that will become a modern icon in our region and across the country.”
The Crew will host a groundbreaking event on October 10 with music from DJ AXCESS and food trucks. The stadium is expected to be completed by July 2021.
Every day, people all around Columbus drive/ride/walk to their jobs, eager to contribute their passion and talent to the city. This series aims to highlight those people and give them a platform to spread their love for their careers. Welcome to I Love My Job.
You may not know his face (depending on your seats), but you definitely know his name: LEO! Longtime Columbus Blue Jackets national anthem singer Leo Welsh has been stealing the hearts of hockey-goers at Nationwide Arena with his impressive pipes and passion for the game since 2003.
Here is why he loves his job so much:
614: What do you love most about your job?
LW: The thing I love most about my position with the CBJ is being such a fan and being part of the game experience. It is a total thrill every single time.
614:What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
LW: The most challenging part would have to be maintaining my health during the winter. Hard to sing well when you aren’t feeling your best.
614:What is the most rewarding part of your job?
LW: The most rewarding aspect is when I am singing and I can see young people singing along to our National Anthem.
614:What’s the best story you have from your time with the Columbus Blue Jackets?
LW: So many great stories and interactions with fans and our military honorees. Most recently the playoffs from last year strand out. The CBJ had a World War II veteran on the ice with me every night. These men were all special and excited the crowd and made it very easy for me to be focused on honoring our country. Several were arm in arm with me and singing along to our National Anthem, very special moments.
614:Who has been the most influential mentor in your career so far?
LW: I have had many great teachers and mentors. Maestro William Boggs stands out. He is one of the reasons I moved to Columbus following graduation from Ohio University. He offered me a job with Opera Columbus. He was critical when he needed to be, demanded preparation from his singers and was supportive by offering examples and best practices at all times. Truly a great mentor.
Leo will be leading players and fans in the national anthem this Friday as the Blue Jackets open their season against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nationwide Arena. Puck drops at 7pm.
When it comes to being an athlete on the football field, making it to the next level is more of a miracle than a rite of passage. Rosters can only hold 53 players by the time the regular season begins, and there’s a 5.8 percent chance that high school stand out will even make the cut. Even if they find success on the field, the odds of making into the league as an NCAA senior is one in 50, or 2 percent. And for anyone looking to take a different route and skip college, the odds of making it on an NFL roster are about the same as having a 150 IQ. In other words, athletes need a plan B, C, and Z.
But what happens after a successful life on the field? Here in Columbus, we’ve seen Heisman winners phase out of the league in a few short years as well as highly recruited players forced to make a position change just to have a shot. Names like Troy Smith come to mind, or Braxton Miller and Terrelle Pryor. For whatever the reason may be—didn’t have the physical attributes the coach was looking for, or just never got that chance to prove themselves—life goes on, and former Ohio State favorites have found ways to use their namesake and recognition to thrust themselves into a new career.
Whether they took down the Big Ten foes in football or lead basketball squads to new heights, the super stardom of playing for the university creates household names and that alone can get you far if your professional career in athletics falls through. In a world where it’s who you know more than what you know, getting your foot in the door is a crucial step.
But how far can namesake get you? At the end of the day, it’s a lot like sports. You can be the five-star recruit set to blaze the country, but until you actually perform those skills on the field, you’re just another player on the team. Sure your name catches the coach’s attention, but that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed anything. Take Zach Justin, and Mike Boren of Boren Brothers Roll Off Dumpsters and Trash Removal Services. You might recognize them from the iconic image of Zach towering over a curled-up Devin Gardner, a former Michigan quarterback.
Justin, a 2011 graduate of OSU, earned First Team All Big Ten and Second Team All-American Honors and seemed primed for a life in the league. He made the leap to the NFL where he was bounced around from the Baltimore Ravens, the Detroit Lions, and the Denver Broncos. Due to lingering injuries, Justin’s NFL career prematurely ended after three seasons. Similarly, his brother Zach joined the Buckeyes in 2009 as Ohio’s Defensive Player of the Year. While playing with the Buckeyes, he found himself on both sides of the ball as fullback for the first three years and linebacker for his senior season where he served as a captain on the 2012 squad that never lost a game. Though he hasn’t fully given up on his dreams of playing on Sundays, his time in the league also lasted three seasons with a new team each year.
These setbacks might be enough to diminish confidence, but the Boren brothers chose to embrace the Buckeye work ethic.
“It’s kind of a running joke now,
but the coaches talked about when
we played,” Zach said. “If you go to
Ohio State, especially as an athlete,
and you do what’s expected of you,
give back to the community, and
take full advantage of that position
you’re in at that time, Columbus
will always treat you right.”
This name recognition has
helped the brothers open doors
and meet with people that might
have never given them the time
of day, Justin explained. But, to
reiterate, that’s only half the battle.
“The connections get your foot in the door,” Justin said. “Once your foot is in the door and you have the opportunity, you have to perform. You have to run a legit business, do the right things, and focus on service, but it at least opens a lot of doors.”
This lesson parallels with performance on the field, and it’s those takeaways the two learned while at OSU that they apply to their business. The mantra is simple, but powerful: they treat every day like it’s a football game.
“You have to show up, you have to do your job, you have
to perform,” Zach explained. “And if you don’t, you’re losing
that day; you’re either winning or you’re losing.”
In the same vein as football, Justin said a lot of success boils down to the team around you. While the Boren brothers along with Mike, the father and a former stellar Wolverine (now fully converted to scarlet and gray) and Jacoby, the youngest former Buckeye of the three, are the face of the company, their staff is out doing the work on a day-to-day basis.
This also holds true for The Pit BBQ on Cleveland
Avenue, a smoked meats adventure started by former
Buckeyes Chimid Chekwa and Bryant Browning as well
as D’Andre Martin and Mike Johnson. After Chekwa
and Browning tested the waters in the NFL, they found
themselves much like the Boren brothers looking to move
past a life in athletics. The question that rings in many
former athletes’ head was looming: what’s next?
While Chekwa is originally from Clermont, Florida, Browning, Martin, and Johnson all grew up in Cleveland dining at barbeque joints which eventually came to influence how they do business in Columbus. They took their time to carefully scout how other places went about barbecue and eventually decided it was their turn to share the love. First, the idea was to create a franchise through The Pit BBQ, but the restrictions that came along with it steered the four away from it.
“Throughout Cleveland there’s a lot of
Ma and Pa pop-up stops that Columbus was
lacking at that time in the area so we wanted
to take that style and that taste and bring it
to the Columbus area,” Browning explained.
While the recognition was helpful for starting the business, Bryant explained that it also puts you under a microscope. At one point, you could’ve been known as an All- American cornerback, but if you serve bad barbecue, you’ll be remembered a guy with bad barbecue.
“The other side of that is having the
opportunity to go back where you have
some recognition and memories to provide
not only good food, but also do good for the
community,” Chekwa added.
Whether it’s crafting large quantities of meats and fixings for someone’s tailgate through the catering service, or simply helping the business rush sink their teeth into high quality cuts of brisket, it’s a complete and total team effort. On any given day, it’s no surprise to see the once All-American cornerback Chekwa in the back preparing the food for the day, or the former OSU captain Bryant manning the cash register. Just like football, it’s a complete team effort.
“If I’m working the cashier stand, people will come in and say, ‘Wow! You’re a big guy!’ ” said the 6-foot-4-inch, 325-pound offensive lineman Bryant. “With helmets on, and being many years ago, they might not recognize your face right away or who you are. But yeah, an All-American cornerback is back here working the grill.”
However the big lights may shine, the former Buckeyes never forget the lessons they learned on the field.
“To be successful we understand it’s work,” Browning said. “It wouldn’t be a surprise to see me driving around in a food truck to an area to sell food. We understand it’s going to take the same grind it took in football to be successful. That’s just in our DNA.”
To get in contact with the Boren
Brothers for commercial waste removal,
visit borenbrothers.com. For more
information on hours and catering
options, check out thepitcolumbus.com.
Each season of Buckeye football presents new faces, storylines, and expectations for fans to follow. While the quarterback position is typically at the top of all conversations, this season brings an added layer: who is this new coach?
His name is Ryan Day, and after a 3-0 start as interim head coach last year, he stands as the only undefeated coach in OSU’s history. Sure, it was a short stint, but the glimpses we witnessed were promising. His prodigy quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, went on to blaze the Big Ten and take down That Team Up North. But now, the pressure is on. There’s no Urban Meyer to step in week four—this is Day’s team. So before we flood the Shoe ready for another National Championship run, let’s get to know the new head coach.
1. In his college days, Ryan Day did more than just serve as the captain of his football team.
“The guys loved [Day]. In intramural basketball, he was the one that got the guys together. He put the team functions together; he was the guy doing it. He was setting up the Fourth of July get-together with his friends. I think it has to do a lot with his upbringing in Manchester. He was brought up by some great people that were able to show him important values of family and important values of friends,” said current University of New Hampshire head coach Sean McDonnell, who coached Day in 1999 to 2001.
2. Besides Day, Manchester, New Hampshire is home to two other college football coaches: Dan Mullen of UCLA and Chip Kelly of UCLA.
While at UNH, Day’s offensive coordinator was the offensive- minded Kelly. Following graduation, Day rejoined Kelly in the NFL with a short stint at the Philadelphia Eagles as the quarterbacks coach for the 2014-2015 campaign as well as serving as offensive coordinator under Kelly with the San Francisco 49ers from 2015-2016. “I played for him 10, 12 years ago and he’s one of my closest friends in college coaching. I can thank him for everything in football that I’ve had. He leaves an impact on people’s lives,” Day said, as reported by NJ.com in 2015 after joining the Eagles.
3. Day was in a quarterback competition in college. He won his spot in a very impressive fashion.
“One game that sticks out; we were down 31-3. Ryan was the quarterback against Delaware and we came back to win the game in overtime. He put the team on his back, made some great throws, made a few great scrambles, but everyone knew that he was running the show—and more importantly—we could win and he was telling us so,” said McDonnell.
4. Day’s age (40) puts him in an interesting class of other young Buckeye head coaches who went on to become legends at the university.
Paul Brown, who led the Buckeyes to its first National Championship, stands as the youngest at 33. Next in line is Woody Hayes, 38, and we’re guessing you’ve heard of him.
5. Day and his wife Christina first met as T-ball teammates when they were six and coached by Christina’s dad Stan Spirou.
Ryan and Christina both grew up in Manchester, New Hampshire, and graduated from Manchester Central High School. “I tell Ryan all the time that Nina was the better player, but he denies it,” Spirou said in the 2019 Spring OSU Alumni Association Magazine. Stan Spirou also coached the men’s basketball team at Southern New Hampshire University for 33 years. Ryan and Christina, who goes by the nickname Nina, have been married since June 2005.
6. This tight-knit family dynamic is something both Ryan and Nina hold close to their hearts.
“Since Ryan became OSU’s coach, we feel like our family has grown. We now have our Buckeye family that we need to nurture and support so they all have a chance to thrive on and off the football field. We feel truly blessed for our kids, our extended family and now our Buckeye family,” Nina told (614). Ryan, a father of three children, gives credit to Nina for always being there. “Nina is the rock who keeps our family strong and makes it possible for me to coach. You have no chance in this profession without a strong, supportive wife.”
7. Day was familiar with Urban Meyer prior to arriving in Columbus.
In 2005, Day served as a graduate assistant to the Florida Gators. When he got the call from Meyer to be the offensive coordinator of OSU in 2017, he didn’t think twice. “I would have walked here,” Day said, as reported by the Dayton Daily News in 2018.
8. ...And Meyer didn’t beat around the bush for expectations when Day took over the team.
“‘You beat the rival,’ Meyer told him. ‘Every other game you have to win as well. Every player has to get drafted in the first two rounds. No off-the-field issues, and never lose to that rival,’” reported Dan Murphy of ESPN in 2019.
9. While serving at Boston College initially as a wide receivers coach from 2007-2011, he eventually moved into the offensive coordinator position as well as the quarterback coach from 2013-2014.
While running the offense, the coach improved Boston College’s run game which was averaging 91-rushing-yards-per-game to 212.5-yards- per-game. This boost of 121.5 yards-per-game stands as one of the biggest turnarounds in ACC history, reports NJ.com in 2015.
10. The Days are passionate about mental health.
The mental health crisis across America’s campuses is real, and the Days are quite literally “changing the game” with their support of the “On Our Sleeves” movement at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Because of the loss of a family member to suicide and their concern for the mental and physical well-being of young people, the Days have started The Ryan and Christina Day Fund for Pediatric and Adolescent Mental Wellness to help increase awareness, programming, and treatment for mental issues that affect young people. Here, they share their reasons for championing this cause:
(614): What can you share about your own loss and adolescence that you think would be helpful for individuals and families facing mental health challenges?
Nina Day: When I was growing up, mental health wasn’t something people talked about. As an adolescent, I remember feeling different emotions and sometimes being very confused by them. But I didn’t know how to express what I was feeling, so I didn’t talk much about them. Today, thankfully, we’re more willing to talk openly about mental health issues like depression and anxiety. That’s so important because it gives people the confidence they need to seek help. I’ve learned, however, that even though someone may have a strong support network of friends and family, that may not be enough. Sometimes you need the help of a professional.
Ryan Day: I think it’s important for everyone to understand that mental illness is a sickness that needs treatment just like any other type of illness. I know it can be hard not to feel animosity toward someone suffering from mental illness. But the reality is that person is sick and needs help. Only by acknowledging this can we remove the stigma that’s so often associated with mental illness.
614: What made you choose this moment to tell your story and join the campaign?
ND: Our family has been directly impacted by mental illness, so it’s an issue that’s been very important to us for a long time. When Ryan became the head coach at OSU, it gave us the platform to really make a difference. So we’ve decided to take advantage of this opportunity to help people, especially adolescents and young adults, who are struggling with mental health issues.
RD: When I was recruiting in Massillon last year, the high school coach told me there had been five suicides in that community in less than one year. Those deaths inspired me to do research about suicide among teenagers and adolescents. I’ve learned that our country is in a crisis right now. We have a whole generation of kids who are struggling with mental health issues and need help, but they’re often afraid to seek it. When Nina and I heard about the “On Our Sleeves” campaign, we knew immediately that this was a great opportunity for us to help not just the city of Columbus, but the entire state of Ohio, as well. That’s why we committed $100,000 to create the Ryan and Christina Day Fund for Pediatric and Adolescent Mental Wellness at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
614: College athletics are obviously high pressure. What can teachers and coaches do to support student-athletes’ well-being?
ND: I think the most important thing a teacher or coach can do is be accessible to the student-athlete. Coaches and teachers should make themselves available and encourage their student-athletes to come to them to talk or ask for help. Ryan and I tell our kids that it’s OK not to feel OK. When they are sick with the flu or an ear infection, their body doesn’t feel good. But there may be times when their mind doesn’t feel good, and it’s OK to talk about it. Ryan will always be there for his players when they’re struggling, either physically or emotionally, just like we’re here for our own children.
RD: I think coaches and teachers should provide an environment that supports the mental health and well-being of student-athletes. This should be a place where student-athletes feel safe discussing their feelings and asking for help and support. I want my team to know I’ll be there for them if they’re hurting or need help.
To donate to the Ryan and Christina Day Fund, visit nationwidechildrens.org/giving/on-our-sleeves/about/day- family-fund.