By next summer, Columbus Crew SC will be training at "the gold standard of training facilities in Major League Soccer," said President and General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko.
As part of the Club's 2020 Media Day and historic partnership announcement with Columbus-based OhioHealth, Crew SC unveiled plans to construct the OhioHealth Performance Center on the grounds of the current stadium site, with a completion date set for the summer of 2021.
The OhioHealth Performance Center will be home to the Crew's headquarters, player training grounds and a new community sports park, all of which will be located within a 15-acre plot to the immediate west of MAPFRE Stadium.
The 42,000 square-foot training facility will stand adjacent to 350,000 square feet of playing surface for three (3) natural grass fields in addition to the current stadium field, which will eventually be transformed into a turf field.
Technical Director Pat Onstad stressed the implications this facility will have on attracting top-level talent and developing young players.
"The OhioHealth Performance Center I think for us is a huge step forward," Onstad said. "Tim [Bezbatchenko] I know talked about recruiting, as some of (our players) know…and now we have a chance to show them this excellent facility we are going to be building here thanks to OhioHealth and their support for our group.0000
"For us, that’s going to be huge. It’s a big opportunity for us to recruit these guys and also help train them. They should be in this type of environment. This is where our league is going now. Our league is going to compete with the rest of the leagues around the world and these training facilities are very important for us to compete with those other big clubs."
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McGuinness joined the Club after working in the Qatar Football Association from 2015-2018. During his time there, McGuinness worked as a Senior Player Recruiter and was responsible for the identification and recruitment of players to represent the Qatar National Team.
Tall joined Crew SC from FIFA’s HQ in Zurich, where he worked in their Team Services and Competition Department, the group responsible for organizing the World Cup and other FIFA competitions. In addition, he led the revision and implementation of the new FIFA World Rankings.
"In terms of the recruitment standpoint…I think the big thing is that we are all on the same page and I want to say we have a Scouting Director in Neil McGuinness…who does a really good job in [identifying players], and Issa Tall, who is our Director of Player Personnel for us, does a really good job making sure that these guys all fit," Onstad said.
"I want to give those guys a lot of credit of why we have a good chance now for what we believe in is certainly a good opportunity to go and win an MLS championship and that’s certainly what we are shooting for."
The training facility is paramount for attracting First-Team talent, but its importance for the Crew SC Academy cannot be overstated.
"The other aspect I think is a big one is we have an academy that, right now, is working on still trying to find fields at times," Onstad said. "But what I would say is we are still developing guys. In the last two years we’ve signed three guys from our academy, so that’s a testament to our academy staff that has done a fantastic job training these guys and getting them ready to become professionals, but a facility like this will definitely help in that pathway."
Earlier this year, the Crew announced the signings of Homegrown Aidan Morris and Sebastian Berhalter to go along with last year's signing of Homegrown Aboubacar Keita, who went on to start in five games for the United States in the U-20 World Cup before making eight starts for the Crew.
For a deeper dive into the facility's make-up, as well as a fly-through video, visit here.