There are plenty of options for sports fandom around Columbus – nay, the whole state of Ohio – whether it’s baseball, football, hockey, soccer, you name it. Ohio State football, Columbus Clippers, Blue Jackets, Reds, Indians – we’ve done almost all of it. And one of our favorite experiences is heading to Mapfre Stadium to cheer on the Columbus Crew SC.
We’ve found that Crew games are great for anyone – for the diehard soccer aficionado, for families looking for an entertaining evening, for a group of friends who appreciate great food and beer. While our boys have enjoyed every event we’ve attended, there’s something special about soccer matches. The constant action, the close quarters to the field, the never-ending hustle of the players.
The Columbus Crew SC was generous in hosting our family of four when the Crew faced FC Dallas. Our first stop after parking near the stadium was the plaza outside the south entrance. It’s a great hangout before the game: food trucks and tents are lined up around the plaza, a DJ cranks out tunes from the stage, there’s beer from Ohio breweries on tap…
…ice cold slushies, plenty of Crew swag, a playground and soccer games for the kids.
There’s a good representation of Columbus food trucks scattered around the plaza, like Hot Chicken Takeover, Schmidt’s, and Pitabilities. Rhinegeist was on hand serving cider, IPAs, and a blonde ale from their truck.
For a little pre-game dinner we stopped in the Upper 90 lounge, located in the southeast corner of the stadium. The lounge is open to anyone, with a full bar and food on hand. We were treated to the taco bar, where we loaded up plates with tortilla chips and corn chips, a well-seasoned house-made chili, and all the toppings. Plus a slice (or two) of rainbow cake for dessert. There’s outdoor patio seating with a great view of the stadium, and a foosball table in the center.
Then we were lucky enough to be taken down to the field before the game, where we watched the Crew warming up.
Our oldest, Will, who plays soccer himself, is always excited to see a Columbus-born player that shares his name: number 20, Wil Trapp.
We even got a high-five from Crew Cat as he made his rounds.
Afterwards we got to stand in the line while the Crew players walked out onto the field, to the thunderous cheering of the crowd. It’s amazing how it sounds from field level.
And then the game was on! Although we weren’t quite finished eating yet. It’s hard to resist the pull of Hot Chicken Takeover when we’re close by, so we ordered some drumsticks and a sandwich (my personal favorite).
We’ve been to Mapfre Stadium multiple times, sitting in many different sections, and I appreciate that there’s really not a bad seat in the house. It’s especially fun to watch the Nordecke, the crew supporters club, as they beat drums and shout and sing for all 90+ minutes of the game. I don’t know if I could ever sit through an entire game in that section, but their enthusiasm is infectious.
The Crew scored two goals during the game, unleashing a cloud of smoke from the Nordecke and streamers shooting out overhead.
As you can imagine, it gets a little noisy when they score.
We found many options for entertaining the kids throughout the game. There are stands selling classic stadium snacks at every corner. During the half some local kids soccer clubs hit the field to play. And at regular intervals Crew Cat shows up with a T-shirt cannon and sends Crew shirts sailing into the crowd. Our youngest Owen and I even enjoyed just strolling the main deck of the stadium, catching different views of the action.
The Crew topped FC Dallas 2-1 that night. As the festivities wound down, we were lucky to fist-bump Frankie Hejduk, former Crew captain and now ambassador, sailing through the stadium on a motorized skateboard while wearing a flag as a cape.
Thanks for a great game, Crew! We can’t wait for the next match.
Check out their upcoming schedule here.
For more Ohio-made fun, Find It Here at Ohio.org.
Thank you to Tim Miller and the Columbus Crew SC for providing tickets, food, and serving as generous hosts to our family! Photos and opinions are our own.