Buying the Columbus Crew SC was never
about making money, said Dr. Pete Edwards, who went from team physician to
co-owner of the Major League Soccer team seemingly overnight.
"It was not an investment decision.
It was a good thing for the city," said Edwards, a surgeon and partner in
Columbus-based Orthopedic One, the largest physician-owned orthopedic surgery
practice in Ohio.
Edwards said his extended family, known
as long-time developers and builders in Central Ohio, has always wanted the
city to succeed.
"Losing a sports team is bad for a
city. There's a hole there. ... Even if you're a casual fan, the idea that your
city lost something – that's a bad feeling," Edwards said during a
wide-ranging interview with Columbus Business First ahead of a Wednesday press
conference for the new owners and team leadership to meet the public.
"Columbus is growing and on an
upswing," he said, "and my family is really passionate about
Columbus, so to prevent that from happening was a driving force from the
The Edwards family and Jimmy and Dee
Haslam, who own the Cleveland Browns, came together to keep the Crew in
Columbus and create a plan with the city, county and state to build a new
stadium and mixed-use development downtown and turn the old Mapfre Stadium grounds
into a new Crew training facility and community sports complex.
The plan came together after months of
behind-the-scenes negotiations by Columbus city officials, Columbus Partnership
CEO Alex Fischer and Chief Counsel Steve Lyons and others after former owner
Anthony Precourt said in October 2017 that he wanted to move the team to
Edwards declined to say how the ownership
is split between the families or to disclose his family's exact investment, but
he confirmed the broad outlines of the deal that secured the team's sale. As
we've reported, that included $150 million to buy the team, another $150
million toward a new $230 million stadium complex, and an undetermined
investment in the more than $300 million in development expected around the new
Edwards, who has been involved with the
Columbus Crew since its inception in 1996, said his family didn't hesitate when
he told them about his interest in buying the team. Edwards is the son of real
estate developer Peter H. Edwards Sr. of Edwards Companies, a wide-ranging real
estate business known locally for its work in the Brewery District, Tuttle
Crossing and student housing projects around Ohio State. Other siblings include
Jeff Edwards, CEO of Installed Building Products Inc., a public company with
more than $1 billion in annual revenue; Central Ohio custom homebuilder Mike Edwards;
and Anne Edwards, who renovates historic homes in England.
It was this past October when the Haslam
and Edwards families announced they were working on a deal with Major League
Soccer to buy the team. An official deal was ironed out in December, along with
plans to build the $230 million downtown stadium at the western end of the
Arena District and to transform the Mapfre site.
Like the Haslams, Edwards said his family
is in this for the long haul and they both see the investment as a
"My kids grew up around it, they
watched every game," Edwards said. "This is not just about soccer,
it's about family."
Edwards also said none of this would have
happened without the SaveTheCrew movement.
"The team wouldn't have stayed if it
wasn't for them, that's clear," he said. "Their reward is they won.
They got to keep the team – they got to keep our team."
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