Love it or hate it, no one can argue that RFK Stadium doesn't hold a special place in Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer history.
As the League's only stadium that can boast that it's been used since MLS's infancy in 1996, no other site in MLS can boast that it has held World Cup matches for both men and women, 21 U.S. Men's National Team matches, three MLS Cup Finals, and one MLS All-Star Game. Built for football and baseball, RFK stadium has also hosted boxing, bowl games, and various concerts.
RFK Stadium also holds a special place in my heart, because it's where I got my start in MLS as an intern for D.C. United in the summer of 2011. Who knows, without my experience with D.C. United last summer, I might not be writing the article for the Crew right now.
But fear not, Crew fans. In the seven matches in which I worked for D.C. last summer, Ben Olsen's team went 0-4-3 at RFK Stadium. In addition, I traveled to Chicago to see the Black-and-Red draw the Fire 1-1 and drove to my now-home of Crew Stadium to see United's playoff hopes dashed by Eddie Gaven's diving header on October 2, 2011 to go on top of July 21's 1-0 victory. And while the Black & Gold hasn't been wildly successful at RFK-- winning only six times in MLS's 17 year history-- the Crew has taken nine points from its last five matches at the historic stadium in D.C.
Though it is great for MLS that D.C. United may soon get a new stadium in The District within the next few years, you have to appreciate the only stadium that was in use when the league started in 1996 still going strong today. (Even though you may run into cockroaches, raccons, and various other critters in the field-level tunnels.)
In just a couple of hours, the Crew will kick off against new Eastern Conference rival the Montreal Impact. Originally opened in 2008 for the NASL Impact, the team kicked off MLS play in the newly renovated Stade Saputo on June 16 with a 4-1 win over the Seattle Sounders. Before the Crew plays its first game in MLS's newest stadium, here is your own personal tour of the Stade Saputo:
The view from the northwest corner(where the Nordecke would be at Crew Stadium) of Stade Saputo at field level. Notice the observatory from Olympic Stadium, home of the former Montreal Expos, in the background.
The vantage point from atop the Impact supporters' section facing south.
My view of all the action tonight, from the press box.
Finally, Rusty Wummel and Dave Lagow's office for the night: the visiting locker room.
Good news! Our proposed 100-foot signage marquee is another step closer to reality, after unanimous passage (with conditions) by the City Graphics Commission on Tuesday. The Graphics Commission hears requests for variances, special permits, appeals, graphics plans and certain miscellaneous graphics. The Crew’s proposal, for a cylindrical tower on the North side of Crew Stadium facing I-71, will now be considered by the Ohio Expositions Commission, which manages the State Fairgrounds property on which Crew Stadium is located.
Thirteen years ago today the Columbus Crew opened Crew Stadium before a sold-out crowd of 24,741, the first MLS stadium built specifically for soccer in the United States as the Crew beat the New England Revolution 2-0. Jeff Cunningham scored the first goal in Crew Stadium history beating Revs goalkeeper Walter Zenga in the 10th minute. Stern John added the second goal in the 59th minute.
What is your favorite memory of Crew Stadium? Leave a comment below.
In an effort to spruce up the United States' first Major League Soccer-specific stadium, LED field boards have been installed at Crew Stadium ahead of Saturday's home opener against the Montreal Impact. The boards are just one of many upgrades for the 2012 MLS season.
"I think it's going to be a fantastic addition to the fan experience at Crew Stadium," team president and general manager Mark McCullers said.
The boards will also increase the Crew's sponsorship opportunities in conjunction with the team's new television deal with Fox Sports Ohio.
"With our Fox Sports Ohio deal, it's going to give our sponsors and our corporate partners the best possible platform to deliver their brand message," McCullers continued. "There's a lot of flexibility, it marries well with the increased distribution we have at Fox Sports Ohio and gives the sponsors a great platform."
In addition to the new LED field boards, new menu items can be found at Crew Stadium's concession stands along with updated concourses and plaza experiences.