Members of the front office met with representatives of various groups of supporters of the crew, including the Nordecke and La Turbina Amarilla, on Tuesday afternoon. The team was represented in part by owners Dee Haslam, JW Johnson and Dr Pete Edwards, as well as team chairman and general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, and chief business officer Steve Lyons.
The fan groups were partly represented by Nordecke board members Jeff Barger and General Counsel Charles Campisano. Hector Robledo was present to represent La Turbina Amarilla. Both sides quickly came to an agreement that when it came to the rebranding, the Columbus organization acted too quickly and without sufficient input from the team’s most passionate fans.
The result was a return to the team’s original name, the Columbus Crew, as well as changes to the logo.
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A statement read: “Tonight a positive and collaborative discussion took place between Crew’s investor-operators, front office leaders and a diverse group of the Crew community regarding the future of the Club brand and engagement. of the Club towards its community of supporters. The importance of keeping the crew as the club’s primary identifier was clear; the decision that emerged from the discussion was that Columbus Crew will remain the official name of the team going forward.
“The Crew has received support from Nordecke for the name, which will include Columbus Crew in the new crest. Additionally, ’96’ will be placed inside the outline of the Ohio state flag, recognizing the club’s status as a founding member in Major League Soccer. “
In a subsequent video statement, Edwards said: “We are very excited about the progress we have made and where we are going as a club. We’re going to be the Columbus Crew and we’re going to be the Columbus Crew forever. “
Both sides agreed that a Fan Liaison post would be created to better communicate with the team’s fan groups. A position to manage the broader community outreach efforts will also be created.
“Restoring the name was the number one priority,” Campisano told ESPN by phone. “Obviously it would have been better to have had a fair dialogue up front, but given that they listen and react and have asked a lot of us, I think it’s as good as we could have hoped for given the circumstances. . “
He added that the meeting was “a sincere attempt to mend the fences.”
The Columbus organization announced details of the initial name change on May 10, after news of the project leaked the weekend before. Among the changes, the nickname “Crew” has been removed from the official team name, as well as from the new logo. Instead, the team was to be called Columbus SC. At the time, Bezbatchenko insisted that the idea was to accentuate the name of the city.
“When you had Columbus Crew SC, people really ignored Columbus,” Bezbatchenko said last week. “They talked about Crew SC. It was all Crew, and that was just part of who we were and what we want to be to move forward. “
The response has been universally negative, with Morgan Hughes, one of the founders of the Save the Crew movement that kept the team from moving to Austin, Texas, calling the rebranding “lame” and “so personal a goal. useless ”.
To make matters worse, Campisano and Barger wrote a report in January – a copy of which was obtained by ESPN – warning the Columbus front office that the response to the name change in general, and the name change in particular, would be ” negative to catastrophic ”. Bezbatchenko later told ESPN that the report “had not been widely disseminated” within the Crew organization.
According to Campisano, Haslam has since read the report and admitted she should have seen it before last week’s announcement.
“It was heartfelt and heartfelt that it wasn’t just a way to calm us down,” Campisano said. “They recognize that they made a mistake and they have to do things to correct it. “
The episode reiterates the impact that league supporters can have on decisions made by a team’s front office. Now, the crew’s opening of their new stadium can take place later this summer without fan anger being directed at the organization.
Campisano said, “Now I don’t have to worry about boycotting anything anymore. ”