Columbus Cementing Itself as Sports Destination with MLS All-Star Game on its way
June 29, 2023
It’s official – Columbus and Lower.com Field will host the Major League Soccer All-Star Game in 2024.
This announcement is not just exciting for soccer fans, it will impact the entire city. City leaders say Columbus has always been a sports community, but now the city is officially proving to be a sports destination.
Mayor Andrew Ginther said having events like this is a way for the city to show what we always knew, Columbus is a great city to work, live and play. “It’s really exciting to show off why Columbus is getting more and more national and international attention,” Ginther said.
Every seat filled at Lower.com Field for next year’s All-Star Game will drive Columbus’ economy. “You think of all the thousands of people that are going to come here. They are going to stay one, two, three days and they’ll have the opportunity not only for them to see the soccer match but for them to explore Columbus and then go back home and talk about it,” said Governor Mike DeWine.
Linda Logan, the CEO of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, is estimating the entire week of all-star festivities will bring in close to $20 million in direct spending to Columbus. “Think about when you are on vacation and all the places that you frequent, whether it’s great restaurants, attractions, shopping,” Logan said. “All that will be in Columbus too for the people that have maybe never been here and are coming for the first time.”
Tim Emery is the owner of Boston’s Restaurant. It’s in the arena district just down the street from the Crew’s stadium. He said businesses like his thrive off these marquee events. “It attracts people that have never been here before. They get exposed to Columbus for the first time and they are really shocked. They can’t believe what a great city this is and I do think it creates some repeat business,” Emery said.
The arena district is making a name for itself in the sports community as it continues to add marquee sporting event after marquee sporting event to its schedule. This year, Columbus hosted the NCAA tournament which brought in around $10 million in visitor spending and selling the most tickets of any of the eight cities that hosted first and second round games.
Columbus’ home teams are seeing phenomenal ticket returns with the Blue Jackets posting its highest attendance since the 2003-04 season with an average of nearly 17,000 fans per game and the Crew selling-out ten consecutive matches at Lower.com Field.
In January, Nationwide Arena will host the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and is already preparing to host the NCAA women’s Final Four in 2027. Sports officials say these events and today’s announcement will open up even more doors.
“We have a lot to be proud of and we are a great sports destination and we can really compete with just about any city in America,” Logan said.
2005 was the last time the MLS All-Star Game was hosted in Columbus – and that was at Historic Crew Stadium. Business owners and city sports officials say their preparations for the big week in 2024 will start soon.