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MAPFRE Stadium Details
The Columbus Crew SC are one of the founding members of Major League Soccer. From 1996 to 1999, Crew SC played at Ohio Stadium on Ohio State University’s campus. In 1999, Crew SC moved to their current home in MAPFRE Stadium.
MAPFRE Stadium is built for soccer—an important contrast from the team’s tenure at Ohio Stadium, which was too large and lacked necessary equipment for nighttime soccer games. The stadium started an important trend in MLS: teams have built soccer-specific stadiums to create an ideal fan experience. Soccer-specific stadiums generally have a smaller capacity compared to stadiums built for other sports (MAPFRE Stadium’s currently listed capacity for soccer is 19,968), and fans are seated closer to the pitch to create a more intimate experience.
The MLS Cup Finals have been played twice at MAPFE Stadium. In 2001, when MLS rules called for a neutral site, the stadium hosted the LA Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes. In 2015, after rules had changed to allow the team with the better regular season record to host the MLS Cup Final, Crew SC played against the Portland Timbers but lost by a score of 2-1.
In addition to Crew SC games, MAPFRE Stadium has also hosted numerous international soccer events, including group-stage matches during the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The US Men’s National team has played 12 matches at MAPFRE since 2000 and has only lost in one.
Because the stadium includes a permanent stage built into the north end section, it is a popular concert and music festival venue. It hosts the Rock on the Range Festival annually and has recently attracted groups like Metallica, The Offspring, and Korn. In 2017, the stadium hosts the Breakaway Music Festival, featuring headlining acts Diplo and Travis Scott. The stadium has a larger capacity (between 25,000 and 30,000) for concerts.
What’s the best place to sit at MAPFRE Stadium?
As a soccer-specific stadium, MAPFRE Stadium is designed to not have any bad seats for a soccer match. Many fans prefer to sit on the sidelines, rather than behind either of the goals, but this a subjective preference. Teams switch goals at half time, so if you do end up sitting behind the net, you’ll get a chance to see your team shoot up close no matter which end you sit on. Seats behind the goals are all on the lower level.
Lower-level seats have a more intimate feel and are naturally closer to the action, but there really aren’t any “nosebleeds” in the stadium. Upper-level seats are a good value, and you’ll have a great view of the whole field from most seats.
Tips and Tricks
There isn’t much in the way of public transportation in Columbus. The local COTA bus line stops about half a mile from the stadium, but there are no trains or direct shuttles to the stadium. Your best bet is either to drive or take a cab/Uber. The stadium is located right off of I-71.
If you want to arrive early, the stadium gates open 90 minutes before the game’s scheduled start time.
You can find local spots like Schmidt's Sausage Haus, Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and Hot Chicken Takeover in the stadium. If you want to sample local beers, there is a Drink Local area near gate six that serves beer from Columbus Brewing Co., Elevator Brewing Co., and other local favorites.