COLUMBUS CREW SC CHAIRMAN AND INVESTOR-OPERATOR ANTHONY PRECOURT
On the pressure building up to the reveal
[There was] a little bit of pressure. We’re changing something that has been around for nineteen years and something we hope we don’t change again. My highest priority coming in, besides the soccer and getting back to winning ways on the field, was to become more relevant as a brand.
On if there was inspiration from the Bundesliga for the brand
Yeah, to some degree. We just did a lot of thinking about “What does Columbus stand for?” We thought about the arches, we talked about The Short North and the German Village area and we thought that was something that was attractive to the millennials and the young folks that like to go out to go to restaurants and bars and things, it’s a vibrant part of town.
On balancing the new while paying homage to the past
Well, we don’t want to change this again so we wanted it to be timeless. Obviously, our old crest had some retro aspects to it that are sort of endearing, so we want something that has a little bit of retro and some progressive aspects to the new badge.
On the importance of the fans part in the new badge process
It’s extremely important, they are our consumer. They are the ones who care about us more than anybody else. So, we did solicit ideas from them over social media over the last year plus, we talked to a lot of them, got their ideas and vetted out a number of concepts with them like “Soccer Club” and bringing Columbus into the badge.
On what it was like being up on stage
My heart was pounding. It was a very, very exciting time for me. It was great. It’s a really good environment tonight, this is what we want to capture in a bottle for all of our games as well. This is what we are striving for.
On what the identify does going forward
Well, we need to live and breathe it every day. That’s what we’ve talked a lot about. I mean, this isn’t just a changing of a crest for us, it’s a changing of our internal and external. Our mission statement, what we stand for as a club, it’s our values. It is how we’re going to conduct ourselves in terms of being ambassadors and living the brand on and off the field day in and day out so it really reset things.
On the one thing he wanted included in the crest
I love our colors. I think black and gold is what we’re all about, so I’m really proud that we stuck with our colors. I love the name “The Crew.” I think it needed to evolve and mean something more that was more representative of a young, intelligent, progressive city. I love that we are sticking with our name. It’s an evolution, it is not a full rebrand
On why the move to SC
Again, I think we are in a market place where American football is obviously very relevant. We want to differentiate ourselves. We’re competing with them on Saturdays in the papers, in the sports pages so we want to differentiate ourselves there. I also think it is the nomenclature. People in Europe understand more what Columbus Crew means, I think when we recruit players, and just what we stand for I think will make us more attractive in the global soccer landscape. We are not just a first team. We are an academy, we are a youth system and I think the “Soccer Club” kind of represents that as well.
On stadium improvements
Well, one of our brand pillars is being authentically Columbus. We want to enhance the stadium experience on gameday to feel more authentically Columbus. We are trying to showcase things like Jeni’s Ice Cream and Columbus Brewing Company and other microbrews. We are going to create experiences within the stadium that showcase what this great city has to offer.
On where the idea came from
It came from our staff internally. It’s an in-house idea, everything we do is collaborative. Something that I have been focusing on internally over the last year is that we are a big family, we are also a staff that collaborates and communicates with each other on everything, so everything that we are doing is vetted out and worked out as a group.
On Crew Stadium’s long-term future
Crew Stadium is our home, yes. We have nine years left on our existing lease. It has a lot of great history, it is the finest pitch in major league soccer. We win at home, the US Men’s National Team wins at home. There’s nothing really to change yet. Obviously, at some point in time everything becomes obsolete, but we are not there yet.
On the possibility of a new training facility
It is something we will turn our attention to now, nothing to talk about yet.
On potential of working with the Cleveland Browns for a practice facility
I think that the Browns are talking to a lot of people. We are certainly having conversations. We want to have conversations with everyone, I don’t know where that is going yet, but yeah we are having conversations.
On nervousness prior to the logo being unveiled
There has been a lot of anticipation for me as to how this would be received, so it was a really thrilling moment, my heart was pounding. [Sr. Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer] Mike Malo kept asking me if I was going to get chills, I got some chills up there. The fan reaction was fantastic.
MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER COMMISSIONER DON GARBER
On the importance of seeing a club like Columbus evolving
You have to make it in every market. You have to make it in big markets and small markets. I think the Crew reflects what kind of motivates us in Major League Soccer. A place that before we came here wasn’t a soccer town and it’s now a place where rabid fans from all over America come to represent their national team. Gregg Berhalter is a guy that we have had our eyes on for years and years to see his ascension from a great player to a great national team player to now a terrific coach. All of these things reflect on what Major League Soccer is all about.
On why it is important for him to be at an event like this
I just want to show support for Anthony. I know you guys call him Mr. Precourt, but he is younger than all of us. I only call “Mr.” to my dad. Anthony has done a great job. He has come in on a very short timeframe and he has brought new energy to the club, he has rallied the fans. You don’t generally see the guys in the suits get cheered like the players do. It is usually the march of the suits, but here Anthony comes out and really drives the passion of the fanbase because he cares about the club. He has got a grand plan, a big vision. He has put together a good coaching staff and has got players feeling great. I’ll do anything I can to support this city, support Mayor Coleman, who has been a big supporter of the league, and obviously support Anthony.
On first impressions when meeting Anthony Precourt
Anthony is to us what is great about this sport. It is a sport that is driven by young people, by millennials. Anthony is probably just outside that category, but he is a new breed of sports team owner. You think about what you have here, Lamar Hunt is one of the true icons in professional sports and to have to pass the baton to somebody, passing it to Anthony is just perfect because we are a sport that is the most popular sport among the millennial generation and I’m proud of the fact that we have one of the youngest owners in pro sports here in Columbus, he is doing a great job.
On hopes for where the Crew goes from here
They need a deeper connection with the corporate community here. I think they have rallied the fans and are doing better with season ticket sales, but there are a lot of big companies in Columbus. We want those companies to start really get engaged like Barbasol has in supporting this team. The Columbus partnership has been terrific. They love Anthony, they love the mayor, they love the fact that the Crew is here, but we need more. If we can get naming rights on the building, then I think we will feel really good about the support that we have here in town
On what the league does to further that involvement
I spent a lot of time here, probably more than almost every other market. Perhaps not at games, but I think I have probably been out here a half-dozen times in the last year and a half to two years, meeting with the mayor, meeting with the partnership. Trying to help them engage in the corporate community. The league will do whatever we can, as we did to help in the Barbasol deal.
On what a city like Columbus means to the league
Again, I go back to the history and the tradition This is the bread basket of America. We’ve got folks out there cheering and screaming and yelling and supporting their club no different than fans in any other market. The Nordecke is as good as any supporter group in Major League Soccer. We need to have a broad coverage throughout the United States and Canada. We need to spread these concentric circles so that all of these two countries support our league. We’re still young, we will have 21 teams next year which is a lot more than we probably thought we would have four or five years ago. We need to continue expanding smartly, and have cities that can reflect the success that Columbus has had.
On if the new logo fits in with MLS’s next wave
It is funny, the League does not have a particular point of view on team brands, that has got to come from the fans and the owner engaging in the community that is going to support it. This logo does both. It has a modern feel, it has that upward movement, but it still has a traditional base. This is city has a lot of heritage and it’s identity is that it is one of the originals I think it was smart for them to capitalize on that.
On the outlook of the Crew over the next 10 years.
If we don’t have teams that are in close proximity, it could own this region. This is a town that has 100,000 plus people supporting their football games every Saturday during the college football season, so we know it is a big sports town. Could it end up with a different stadium in years to come? This was an original and who would have thought that almost twenty years later, that stadium is not reflecting really the possibilities and the future of what soccer stadiums could be. I think at some point there could be a new stadium. I think without doubt they will have, as I mentioned before, more sponsors behind them and being the place when people are traveling on vacation and they say “I’m from Columbus,” someone will say to them “Oh, you must be a fan of the Crew.” We want that kind of connection going on as much as we can.
On if a new stadium in Columbus is a priority
No, not really.