Columbus Crew SC Chief Business Officer and Executive Vice President Steve Lyons recently spoke on his path to the Crew and the Club's vision going forward as the Front Office continues to set its sights on, in Lyons' words, audacious goals, including the groundbreaking of a new downtown stadium and the reinvigoration of business & community ventures.
Lyons, who served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel for the Columbus Partnership prior to joining the Crew, played a unique position as a behind-the-scenes player in helping keep the Crew in Columbus, and with that, expressed how he looks forward to ensuring the Club’s long-term success given his role.
“I think most of you know I had a pretty unique position in that for the better part of the last 18 months I was a part of the behind-the-scenes team, alongside with Alex Fischer at the [Columbus] Partnership, in helping to keep this team in Columbus. When it became a reality that I could actually be a part of the organization, it was an opportunity that I could not pass up,” Lyons said.
As one of many key figures in the Crew’s fight to stay in Columbus, Lyons emphasized how being involved with the Club goes beyond any notion of fandom and noted how the Crew is bringing bold ambitions to both the community and business realms in an effort to set an example for not just Major League Soccer franchises, but all of professional sports.
“[Joining the Front Office] was something that I think was personal to me and it allowed me to carry forward and finish something that we started to ensure the long-term success of the business operations of the Crew,” Lyons said.
“But also, to be a part of something in Columbus that is much more than just a sports franchise, and ultimately, long-term, we have some pretty audacious goals and we are just getting started. We have an aspiration to be in the community, to develop partnerships that will position not just the club, but Columbus, for all major league franchises across the country.”
With the groundbreaking of a new downtown stadium on the horizon, Lyons said he looks forward to the opportunity to tell the Crew’s story to the local business community – a group he feels he knows well – while showcasing what will come to fruition as short- and long-term developments continue.
“The opportunity, I think, is to get things ready, to get out there to tell the narrative, to tell the story, and reposition the Crew as it relates to sponsorships and corporate relationships to tell what we are doing not just today, but how we look ahead to the vision for the team in the future that includes the construction of the new stadium and the new home downtown,” Lyons said.
Alongside President & GM and Columbus-native Tim Bezbatchenko, Lyons brings a different connection to the community as the notion of "local" continues to expand throughout the Club, from the Investor-Operators to the players on the field.
“I think most of you know I don’t come from a strong soccer background, but I do know this community and I know the business community, arguably better than a lot of folks out there,” Lyons said. “Tim and I work hand-in-hand together to push this forward and it’s is going to be an opportunity that we have not had here in Columbus. To reiterate what Tim had underscored with the Haslam’s and the Edwards as our new owners, that brings a local connectivity to this community that has not been around for some time.”
To tie it all together, Lyons ended with a note on what it means personally to give back to a community that so publicly showed its commitment and passion for the Club.
“I’ll start with the fans because it was such a passion that was brought forth by not just one or two people, but an entire community that was willing to sacrifice their day jobs to fight hard to keep this team in Columbus,” Lyons said.
“And when you see a fanbase that has that much energy, that much passion and that much care for a club like the Crew, you can’t help but be attracted to that and I think it’s something that is infectious and I think it’s something we embrace. If we are there from a fan perspective and I can join and be a part of that organization that gives a little bit back to make their experience just a little bit better along the way, I accept this job every day.”