As we approach the end of the year, it seems like a good time to reflect on some of the great moments from the 2015 Columbus Crew SC season. I’m not doing a Top Ten list in a countdown fashion, but rather taking ten stops along the chronological journey that was the 2015 campaign. Obviously, it’s the games themselves that matter most, but in addition to ten first-team moments, I’m also throwing in some bonus moments that focus on other off-the-field aspects of the club. After all, there was a lot worth celebrating there too.
So let’s dig in and look at some highlights from a fantastic year…
KEI’S OLD LOGO CELEBRATION
March 14, 2015
Crew SC defeated Toronto FC, 2-0, in the 2015 home opener. That would have certainly been good enough to send the fans home happy. Kei Kamara, however, took it to the next level. After scoring the second goal that sealed the Black & Gold’s first victory with the club’s new badge and “SC” moniker, Kamara jumped over the south end sign boards, produced three hard hats, and posed with two fans to recreate the previous Crew logo. #NewCrew celebrated the old Crew one last time. It was a hilarious, yet touching, tribute to the club’s history.
“To do it here in the stadium and in front of our crowd was everything,” a laughing Kamara said afterward. “I just hope they loved it. You’ve got to pay respect to the old Crew and the old logo and all that. I know it’s a new Crew now, but, you know, pay respect to that one.”
Many Black & Gold alumni appreciated the gesture. Take, for example, Mike Clark, who played from 1996-2003.
“It was pretty cool that Kei honored the Crew's roots by celebrating the way he did,” Clark said back in March. “Especially at a time where the club looks pretty (darn) good, on and off the field. It’s going to be an exciting year for Crew fans!”
(Solid prediction work from Clarkie, huh?)
BONUS MOMENT: MAPFRE STADIUM NAMING RIGHTS
March 3, 2015
Naming rights for Crew Stadium had been near the top of the organizational to-do list for years. Under the leadership of Investor-Operator Anthony Precourt and President of Business Operations Andy Loughnane, the new regime accomplished the longstanding goal. On March 3, 2015, the club announced a multi-million dollar partnership with MAPFRE Insurance to rename Crew Stadium as MAPFRE Stadium.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with a world-class company like MAPFRE Insurance and thank them for their support of Crew SC and our efforts in Columbus,” Precourt said at the time. “This agreement is a culmination of the thorough, thoughtful planning and hard work that we promised Columbus and our fans from the first day Precourt Sports Ventures purchased the team 19 months ago. Dynamic business partnerships like this are part of our strategy to be a winning organization.”
Precourt and Loughnane have repeatedly said that good business leads to good soccer and good soccer leads to good business. Securing a naming rights sponsor definitely injected additional life into that virtuous cycle. For example, later in the year, when we learned about an increase in academy funding, that’s the sort of thing that can lead to better soccer as a result of better business.