Columbus Crew owner-operator Clark Hunt sat down with Michael Arace and Shawn Mitchell after Sunday's game against D.C. United and told them, "I'm confident the Columbus Crew will be playing in Columbus, Ohio, for at least the next 50 years. Beyond that, I'm not making any predictions."
Arace, who has raised concerns in his columns about the future location of the team after a group led by California businessman Mark Noorzai bought into the Crew, welcomes this as good news. But he said the statement "must be backed up with action on a number of fronts: a contract extension for coach Sigi Schmid, who rebuilt the roster to a championship caliber; a new practice facility, long promised and long delayed; and more local investors to be brought into the fold, investors who can bring stability to this franchise."
Hunt said Schmid "built the team his way ... [and] really gets the credit for the great season we've had. We'd like to keep him in Columbus for the foreseeable future. I'm optimistic we'll get it done. If not by the end of the year, certainly shortly thereafter." He also said he hoped to have the practice facility "wrapped up by the middle of next year." And in terms of local investors, "I would expect that there will definitely be some local owners involved in [the Noorzai] group." But he added that as the Hunt Group was "not divesting control of the team, we haven't had a focus on making sure we found a local investor."
Arace said that Hunt's words are heartening for Crew fans as he "sounded like his father. That is high praise. I am encouraged, but I will feel more comfortable when Schmid is signed, the practice facility is built and the local investors are trotted before us, arm-in-arm with Mr. Noorzai."