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Last week we shared #GivingTuesday with you, presenting opportunities to get involved locally by donating to various charities and service organizations. But money isn’t the only way to lend a helping hand this holiday season. There are plenty of opportunities to support causes you care about with your time and effort.

Lutheran Social Services is presenting one of these opportunities with their Decorating and Wrapping Days at Faith Mission this holiday season. The Decorating Day this past Saturday brought 80 volunteers to decorate Faith Mission for the community.

Faith Mission has provided more than 90,000 nights of shelter and three meals a day to anyone who is experiencing homelessness locally. No matter their situation, when a person arrives at Faith Mission, they are treated fairly, with dignity and without judgment. And the volunteers who showed up to decorate are helping create an atmosphere of holiday cheer and spirit.

By donating your time and effort to causes like this, you have the opportunity to meet the people you’re serving face to face. For some, a service situation like this might be stepping outside of their comfort zone. But that’s what it takes to create meaningful connections among residents of our community.

Faith Mission’s Executive Director, Sue Villilo, says, “ I think for folks that you know volunteer or donate to us to be able to bring their kids to let them see it makes it just more real”.

It’s a beautiful thing.

If you missed Decorating day this past Saturday, you can still get involved! Saturday, December 16th from 2pm — 4pm, Faith Mission is hosting a Wrapping Day to wrap all of the donated holiday gifts they’ve received. If you’d like to donate a gift, please deliver it to Faith Mission by December 11th. For more information check out the Lutheran Social Services website.

Since 2012, Americans have gotten behind the movement of #GivingTuesday in response to the commercialization that has taken over much of the holidays. Falling on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, this cause raised over $168 million in charitable donations last year alone.

This holiday season, there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved with local causes in support of the #GivingTuesday movement. So here is a list of just a few charities you can support today:

Besa

Besa connects people with local charities – from food pantries and community gardens to homeless shelters and senior homes. Besa allows volunteers to choose opportunities across the community that speak to them and to get involved in tangible ways. Your donation supports the coordination of many volunteer opportunities throughout Columbus.

The Women’s Fund

The Women’s Fund works to promote leadership and economic opportunities for women and girls in Central Ohio. They do this work through events, grants, research, and advocacy.

Columbus Metropolitan Library

The CML’s mission is “is a thriving community where wisdom prevails.” The Library foundation provides support for its programs and facilities around the city– like homework help centers and summer reading clubs. And this year, Library Champions Jeff and Cathy Lyttle have generously offered to match every dollar donated to Columbus Metropolitan Library Foundation up to a total of $5,000

Columbus Literacy Council  

The Columbus Literacy Council was founded in 1970 and has since grown to provide training in “basic literacy, English for Speakers of Other Languages, family literacy, youth literacy, digital literacy, workplace literacy and workforce development.” Their mission is to “increase employability, enable future education, encourage civic involvement & promote family stability and support.”

Gladden House

Gladden Community House is a settlement house serving Franklinton and its surrounding neighborhoods. Gladden House is a United Way affiliated non-profit agency providing education and recreation programs, emergency assistance, and advocacy and support for individuals, families, and groups.

Faith Mission 

Each year, Faith Mission provides more than 90,000 nights of shelter to men, women, and veterans and serves three meals a day to anyone who is experiencing homelessness. No matter their situation, when a person arrives at Faith Mission, they are treated fairly, with dignity and without judgment.

Columbus Foundation 

The Columbus Foundation’s mission is to assist donors and others in strengthening and improving our community for the benefit of all its residents. The “Better Together” program raises up current high-need causes for Columbus community members to pitch in.

Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS)

This independent non-profit organization has been working to support refugee families in the Columbus area for more than 20 years. As a refugee resettlement agency, this group has “a contract with the Department of State to directly receive and place refugees in our community.” CRIS helps new Columbus residents get settled with housing, English language training, job training, transportation support, and everything down to forks and knives.

Where do you plan to donate this year?

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

One fan explores the metrics behind the claims

Since Anthony Precourt announced intentions to relocate our beloved Columbus Crew to Austin, there has been an immense amount of support from the community to #SaveTheCrew.

Businesses are spreading the word and the city recently met with Crew SC owner, Anthony Precourt, and MLS commissioner, Don Garber, to attempt a deal to keep the team in their Columbus home. Throughout this entire process, there has been a lot of differing information coming from many sides and it’s hard to decipher what is accurate. These most recent negotiations were no different with both sides claiming the other was uncooperative and unwilling to come to an agreement.

At the heart of all of this are claims from the Precourt Sports Ventures team that ultimately, it’s not sustainable to keep a team in Columbus. This leads us to wonder whether there is any truth to their claim?

Luckily, Columbus resident and Crew SC fan, Tim Myers had already set out to get to the bottom of that question. Others have disputed Precourt’s claims, but Myers decided to dig in and explore the facts behind these claims.

Myers put together analysis “using publicly available data and reports to investigate the recent claims by key MLS & PSV stakeholders.”

In Tim Myers’ impressively thorough report (which can be read in full here), he breaks down some of the metrics that contribute to the current situation. He comes to a final conclusion that “any business can claim it struggles while never releasing its financial data. Attendance is one sports business metric that IS publicly available. If a club and league wanted to purposefully, but quietly, reduce its attendance as a justification for eventual relocation, the 2017 Columbus Crew season would be a textbook example.” He supports this conclusion with some in-depth reporting.

 

MLS contributing to the struggles?

One of PSV’s claimed struggles is the club’s schedule. Through a predictive model Myers designed, he sees that the club was given a disadvantageous schedule from the MLS. This included more home games during the less popular March/April months of the season and 3 weekday matches against top road draws that would’ve otherwise maximized attendance if they had been scheduled as weekend games. The MLS doesn’t appear to have given this kind of schedule to any other club in the past 5 seasons.

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As Myers puts it, “this begs the rhetorical question: why would MLS knowingly do this to a club that has been supposedly struggling with its business metrics for years?”

 

PSV contributing to the struggles?

Aside from scheduling struggles, Myers explores the attendance drop at MAPFRE stadium as a result of the club’s own lackluster promotional efforts.

columbus_crew_promotional_efforts

For the 2017 season, the team planned just eight promotional events to encourage game attendance, compared to the 13 that were planned in 2016. The frequency of promotions is significant because Myers finds that games with promotions result in roughly 2,300 more fans (regardless of the day of the week, month, or opponent). The tougher schedule dictated by the MLS paired with the lack of promotions was a perfect storm to detract attendance.

Moreover, when the promotions are both needed the most and most effective – early in the season – the club planned none.

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columbus_crew_missing_promotions

 

Community contributing to the struggles?

PSV’s claim has been that the “challenge in Columbus is simple, [they] don’t have broad-based community support and that’s been based on 22 years of history, tradition, and legacy. Secondly, [they] don’t have the corporate support [they] need in Columbus.”  

If this claim is accurate, then it spells a pretty gloomy future for many other MLS markets that are performing far worse than Columbus in terms of business and community support.

columbus_crew_community_support

columbus_crew_corporate_support

columbus_crew_total_corporate_support

The counterevidence to this claim that the team is lacking community support is most visible with the Columbus Partnership and local business leaders recent attempt to buy the team and BrewDog’s recent attempts to negotiate an acquisition.

Myers’ evidence makes a compelling case that both the league and PSV intentionally put the Columbus Crew at a disadvantage in order to justify their decision relocate. Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson re-affirmed this suspicion on 97.1. This is further supported by the fact that Precourt included an escape clause to relocate the team to Austin when he first purchased the team in 2013. But this hasn’t curbed the team’s determination on the field as they continue their playoff fight against Toronto on Tuesday. And this won’t deter the support of the Columbus fans as we fight to #SaveTheCrew.

Read the full report from Tim Myers here.

 

As we explore the Franklinton community, with a documentary film and an ongoing series of articles, we’ve learned a lot about the opportunities and the issues facing the neighborhood. Our mission through all of this work has been to share the stories from all of the stakeholders involved and open up this conversation among the community.

The social conversations created around this work have been inspiring.

We’ve collected a few of the comments that best capture the overall sentiment from the community. And now we invite you to take these feelings outside of Facebook and into the real world by joining us at Strongwater Tuesday night November 14th at 5:30 for a Community Conversation.

Overall, there is a thirst from the community to explore this topic more and to know how businesses and residents are working together to build the neighborhood.

There’s an understanding that the new development will help the neighborhood grow and prosper. The community has excitement for this future growth.

Along with the excitement is anxiety about the neighborhood’s future. Residents want to make sure that the growth in Franklinton doesn’t happen without them. They want to be incorporated into the process.

People want to make sure that the improvements in the area don’t run out local, sometimes low-income residents. They want to have a say in the development process and insure that there is still room for affordable housing options.

We found similar sentiments when we constructed our Franklinton Wishing Tree at Independent’s Day this summer.

What do you think about the growth of Franklinton? Join us at Strongwater this coming Tuesday to hear your voice heard and be a part of the process.

 

Beer, equity, politics, hotel groundbreaking ceremonies… BrewDog doesn’t do anything standard.

In 2016, BrewDog, based in Aberdeen Scotland, announced they were going to open a brewing facility and taproom in Canal Winchester to support their expansion in the United States. They made quite the splash with this announcement by launching a crowdfunding campaign called “Equity for Punks”. Equity for Punks was the brewery’s way to connect with the community, giving them a chance to own a portion of the business. BrewDog bills itself as “an alternative business owned by thousands of people who love craft beer… [their] philosophy has always been to shorten the distance as much as possible between [themselves] and the people who enjoy [their] beers.” And everything they’ve done has supported this mission.

When BrewDog officially opened the doors to the brewery and taproom this past February, they quickly followed this with the announcement of the world’s first crowdfunded hotel and sour beer facility.

And, of course, this wasn’t going to be your standard hotel.

The DogHouse will feature a beer jacuzzi, beer spa treatments with bespoke hop oils, Punk IPA on tap in every room, and en-suite mini-fridges in the showers perfect for shower beers.

After raising a whopping $324,482 with the Equity for Punks campaign, more than four times their goal, construction on the DogHouse kicked off yesterday with the traditional golden shovel ceremony with actual explosions.

Since BrewDog’s announcement to come to Central Ohio, they’ve been anything but traditional and now we’re excited to see them blow shit up here in the US.  

A soccer team in Columbus doesn’t make sense. A city dominated by Ohio State football isn’t one that you would select to be a founding member of a new sports league. But Lamar and Clark Hunt saw opportunity in Ohio’s capital when they established The Columbus Crew, “America’s Hardest Working Team”, as one of the original MLS clubs in 1996. We were the recipients of the first soccer-specific stadium in America. And now we will be another unfortunate first – the first charter team to relocate.

Though unexpected, in the club’s more than twenty year existence, Columbus’ soccer community has cemented itself on the national stage. FOX Sports Soccer Commentator, Rob Stone believes,

if you’re writing a book on the history and the growth of soccer in America and the MLS, Columbus is not a city that anyone would’ve put in the table of contents. You’d think that it would happen in LA, Houston, Dallas, or New York. But no, Columbus was the cradle. It was held and revered in the soccer community and [Columbus] created this monster of ‘Dos a Cero’ that nobody knew could exist.

When you look at the cities that hosted the original MLS teams, mid-major markets like the Hunts’ Kansas City and Columbus both seem like outliers to their larger counterparts like New York and Los Angeles. But both Kansas City and Columbus have built thriving soccer communities. Columbus’ Hooligans have made MAPFRE Stadium a favorite location of the U.S. Men’s National Team when they face our neighbors just south of the border. The presence of the Crew has lifted soccer in our community. And the passion of our community for the sport has lifted the sport’s presence nationwide. The Crew has shown that MLS success isn’t limited to major cities.

And that’s what did us in. We made soccer big enough that now it is desirable elsewhere. 

The unfortunate situation about American sports is that it’s often more lucrative for an owner to move to a new city rather than foster the community in their current location. Seattle Sonics fans saw their NBA team move to Oklahoma City, Montreal Expos fans saw their MLB team move to Washington D.C., and in the NFL the Raiders have moved from Oakland to Los Angeles, back to Oakland and then after threatening to go back to Los Angeles, they’re now moving to Las Vegas. So the relocation of teams isn’t unfamiliar to fans of major leagues sports. But, with the exception of San Jose relocating to Houston, this is uncharted territory for the MLS.

With the continued expansion of the league and the growth of communities in mid-major cities like Columbus, the economics of the league are now similar enough to the other major sports where it can be lucrative for an owner to hold a city hostage for a new stadium under the threat of relocation. It’s easy to blame a greedy owner with no ties to the city, but that’s the current status of sports in America. New stadiums drive revenue and when that’s not an option teams leave. When Crew Stadium was first built in 1999, our city – specifically downtown – wasn’t what it is today. The fairgrounds, with its ample space and parking, seemed the perfect venue for the league’s first soccer-specific stadium. But today with the additions of Nationwide Arena and  Huntington Park within walking distance of a growing, thriving downtown party scene, it is easy for the stadium to feel out of the way. 

Rob Stone puts it this way: “as much as we all revere the stadium and the place it holds in our heart and American soccer lure, I think we all knew, you don’t want to be at a fairground… [downtown] is where [The Crew] need to be successful and viable.” 

We’re not here to justify Anthony Precourt’s actions. His ultimatum is a lose/lose (if we’re even convinced that the stadium has anything to do with it and not just the lure of a new super hip town). But the point is this…  We, Columbus, made the Crew what it is today. And we have an obligation to cheer “America’s Hardest Working Team” even with our final breaths.

We’ve found ourselves in our very own version of the movie “Major League”… So now we need to rally behind our team to show the owners and the rest of the country why there’s a team in Columbus in the first place. Let’s sell out the game tonight to a rowdy crowd because after all, we’re home to The Best Damn Fans in the Land.

Earlier this year, we set out on a journey to explore our community and share your stories. One of the most impactful stories has been the quickly changing faces of our city’s neighborhoods. And this is perhaps best exemplified in the redevelopment of Franklinton.

Franklinton represents both the excitement for the growth of the city and the need to preserve its rich history. The city’s first settlement was in Franklinton and now that is also the location of its largest boom.

There are plenty of diverse opinions on this redevelopment and how it should or shouldn’t be done. But there are not a lot of opportunities to share those opinions outside of our immediate relationships and conversations.

We’ve explored many angles and perspectives of this story through the Flooded Again documentary and the Franklinton Wishing Tree at Independent’s Day (and in other pieces). The response and support from the community has been overwhelming. This story clearly strikes a chord in our city.

But there’s still more to explore.  

So we’re inviting you to be part of the story.

On November 14th, we’re hosting a community conversation surrounding the development of Franklinton. We want to elevate the voices of the community members being impacted by the changes and give them an opportunity to speak with the people implementing those changes.  

This isn’t a business panel just to promote the developers or a community rally to halt the progress. This is an opportunity for us all to come together and build an open exchange of ideas.

Franklinton is an open and diverse neighborhood, so we want to facilitate an open and diverse dialogue.

How will Franklinton remain a community focused on the arts? How will Franklinton become the beacon that attracts new residents from across the country? There are a lot of stories to explore, and this is your invitation to be a part of the process.

RSVP here.

In the year 2045, Columbus will be the fastest growing city in the world all because of the growth of one gaming company. At least that’s what Steven Spielberg would have you believe with his upcoming film, Ready Player One.

We get it– this film is science-fiction. But we’re pretty sold on the potential that the gaming industry presents for Columbus.

One of the biggest reasons why we’re so bullish on Columbus becoming the epicenter of the gaming world is the upcoming GDEX conference. The GDEX conference attracts game development talent from all over the world. This year’s conference will feature attendees from 16 states and 4 countries. As the largest conference of its type in the Midwest, it has established Columbus a beacon city calling gamers to come here to build their empire.

For gamers, this has a huge impact, providing the ability to interact with your favorite developers and get a peek at what’s coming next in the ever-evolving industry.

For non-gamers, this event tells the story of the potential impact that gaming can make in our community. GDEX is attracting interest from around the world and shows the size and impact of the gaming industry.

We’re not advocating for the headquarters of an evil gaming corporation like Innovative Online Industries (the antagonist in Ready Player one) to be headquartered in Columbus… But at the end of the day, it kind of makes sense for Columbus to be the epicenter of the gaming industry.

Columbus has a unique blend of education, infrastructure, and finance to build an interesting gaming hub. With schools like Ohio State, Ohio University and Columbus State investing resources into game development, Columbus is already producing top dev talent. The tech infrastructure is in place and growing with a number of successful startups in the city including CoverMyMeds who was recently acquired for $1.1B. Similarly, Columbus has the financial chops with VCs like Drive Capital who just last year raised their second fund of $300m.

We’re excited to get a glimpse of the gaming industry that could one day shape our city into the fastest growing city in the world at this weekend’s GDEX conference.

GDEX takes place Sep 30th–Oct 1st at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Tickets and more info available here.

In major cities around the world, lavish hotel lobby bars are often top destinations. Maybe you’ve ordered a broody, author-esque cocktail in the library like lobby of NYC’s Marlton, sipped a Sazerac at the Carousel bar in Nola’s Hotel Monteleone, or dreamt of times long past at Amsterdam’s Pulitzer bar on the Keizersgracht… One thing you’ve probably never done is headed out to a Columbus hotel bar for an evening drink. Because you live here, right?

Recently, boutique hotels like The Joseph have added world-class dining to their ground floors, but you’re still heading to a Cameron Mitchell establishment to enjoy what The Guild House has to offer. And the new announcement of a Moxy hotel coming to the former Haiku location has many excited. But the opening of the AC Hotel in Dublin’s new Bridge Park has us convinced that locals will head to this destination even without a room booked.

The new Bridge Park development in Dublin will soon be home to Columbus’ most cosmopolitan hotel.

For those who aren’t familiar, Bridge Park is Dublin’s ambitious development project at the new roundabout on Riverside and 161. The $300 million project lead by Crawford Hoying is bringing familiar destinations like The Avenue, Cap City & PINS to Dublin and attracting brands like AC Hotels to Columbus for the first time.

The AC Hotel is the first of this brand in Columbus and joins the ranks of their other properties in Seattle, Denver, Miami and cities around the world. The Spanish-inspired hotel provides the kind of craft cocktails and experiences that will attract not just travelers to Columbus but local residents as well.

 

The lobby bar, flooded with late-afternoon light, accented with smooth tile, suede, and leather, dotted with succulents and fiddle leaf figs, evokes a strong Mediterranean feel. This effect is driven home by expert service and a tapas inspired menu.

 

The rooftop lounge, VASO, offers panoramic views of historic downtown Dublin and the Scioto river. While rooftop lounges in Chicago or New York are famous for the cityscapes they provide, VASO offers lush treetops as far as the eye can see. Guests can enjoy these views from a number of cabanas while drinking the hotel’s signature cocktails. Altogether, the AC offers an experience entirely new to the city.

If you haven’t been to Bridge Park yet, you’ll likely be drawn there soon for an event at The Exchange, Cameron Mitchell’s new event space, or a happy hour at the new PINS location… But the AC Hotel bar is what will keep you coming back.

And it opens today.

Lacrosse is big in Ohio & The Machine are at the top of the game.

 

Even if you aren’t familiar with it yet, Ohio is no stranger to lacrosse success. Central Ohio has been anchored by programs like the Upper Arlington Golden Bears who’ve consistently won big on the national stage. And more recently, we saw the Ohio State men’s lacrosse team fight their way to a championship duel against in-conference foe Maryland. And this climate of lacrosse enthusiasm is a big reason why the Ohio Machine– our MLL team– finds themselves back in the championship game in Frisco, Texas this weekend.

2017 was the Machine’s 6th season in Columbus and their first in the brand new stadium, The Fortress, located in Obetz just south of downtown. The team hoped to match their 2016 success with another trip to the championship and their hopes came true with a big home win over the Florida Launch in the semifinals last weekend. Now they prepare to fight off the Denver Outlaws for the second time to claim the championship.

The Machine boasts a talented squad and many of the players hope to end the year with some individual postseason awards of their own. Ohio native Kyle Bernlohr from Akron has had an impressive season which won him nominations for Goalie of the Year as well as Most Improved Player. Defenseman Matt McMahon has been nominated for Defensive Player of the Year and he hopes to ease the pressure on Bernlohr in goal with some pressure of his own on Denver’s dynamic attackmen. In his first full season with the Machine, midfielder Mark Cockerton joins Kyle Bernlohr for the Most Improved Player nomination. And head coach Bear Davis, in his fourth year of leadership for the Machine, is up for Coach of the Year. He hopes to lead the Machine to their first championship.

But the success of a team can’t be contributed to just one player; every well-oiled machine is the sum of its parts. The team’s history of unselfish play has lead the Machine to Frisco.  

Fans can see the Machine take on the Outlaws on the CBS Sports Network at 7:00 pm ET. Resolute Athletic Complex and Pigskin Brewing Company will also be hosting viewing parties for the big game!