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New Columbus Crew SC ownership focuses on community during ‘relaunch’

Crew supporters take a photo with team president Tim Bezbatchenko and head coach Caleb Porter

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Crew SC held an introductory press conference for new team president Tim Bezbatchenko and new head coach Caleb Porter, along with the faces of the new ownership group, Dee Haslam and Pete Edwards. The event had multiple notable attendees, including ESPN analyst and former USMNT player Taylor Twellman, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, former Crew players and Columbus city dignitaries. Garber described the event as a “relaunching” of the Crew.

Everyone spoke at length about the Crew, what the team means to Columbus and how impressive the Save the Crew movement was in accomplishing its goal. Community was the focal point of the event.

“[Crew fans] inspired all of us to rediscover what the Crew means to the city, and to soccer in America. . . . Something unprecedented has been accomplished,” Garber said, adding that many people, himself included, underestimated the city of Columbus.

After the news broke that former owner Anthony Precourt was considering moving the Crew to Austin, many Crew employees were left in the dark about what the future of their jobs may be. Wednesday, all the employees for the Crew from top to bottom were invited to the event. One employee, who has been with the team since before the move was announced, said, “It’s just so nice to be invited. We haven’t been involved with anything until today.”

The event was packed not only with speakers and employees, but with Crew fans as well. Bezbatchenko addressed them, saying, “Thank you for your unwavering support and getting this thing started and being persistent and relentless.”

Haslam also addressed the fans, highlight how involved the new ownership plans to be.

“I have to thank the Save the Crew movement and all the supporters. You’ve done such a great job and we’re so excited to be part of your family. You may get a little tired of seeing us. But we’re really excited about that,” he said.

Porter was the final speaker of the event and turned the focus back to the team on the field.

“I’m not coming here to maintain the status quo. I’m coming here to continue to raise the bar. … I’m coming here to try and bring another trophy. Plain and simple,” Porter said.

He highlighted three things he wanted when taking a new job: to be around good people, a club with a long-term vision and one with the resources and infrastructure to win. Porter felt the team that best fit those goals was Columbus.

As the event concluded, supporters were welcomed to the stage to take a photo with Porter and Bezbatchenko. Edwards stood near the stage, shaking the hand of every fan who came, thanking them for making this moment possible.

“For us to not have this team here, that would have left a hole in our city,” Edwards said. “My family said that wasn’t acceptable and we would do whatever we could to help keep this team.”

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