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Columbus Crew “Hooligans” Want Their Pub Reopened
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For the past year, a group of Columbus Crew soccer fans has been meeting in a storefront on Summit Street several blocks from Crew Stadium. Now the group is fighting to get the City of Columbus to reopen the building.
Several dozen Columbus Crew fans, members of a group known as the Hudson Street Hooligans, turned out for a noon rally in front of its pub on Summit. They were there in support of efforts to reopen the building which has been shut down by the city. Most sported apparel in the Crew’s yellow and black colors like Hooligans member Joel Vinocur:
“I’m wearing a scarf from the 2009 MLS cup playoffs,” Vinocur says. “It’s a yellow Crew scarf. We all come, we all joined the club with a shared interest in The Crew, and it’s a nice place to make friends to have people who have other things in common with you off the bat. I mean it’s our home.”
The building’s capacity is 45 occupants. But the Hooligans have nearly 1,000 members. The city says the building where the Hooligans meet is not designated as a place of “assembly.” Linda LaCloche is Assistant Director of Building and Zoning Services for the City of Columbus.
“You just have to make sure that there’s fire separation and a means of egress,” LaCloche says. “If it’s a store that allows under 50 people to be in there and all of a sudden you’re changing it to a bar which has a much larger occupancy, you want to make sure that those people are safe. And I know that the owner wants to make sure of that and we want to make sure of that as the City of Columbus.”
In spite of having the word Hooligans in their name, there’s no animosity against the city. In fact one of the club’s officers, Blake Compton, says the group is working with the city to comply with regulations.
“We weren’t doing it the safe way and people can die and we need to understand that and recognize that,” Compton says. “And that’s what the city’s stated and they’re working with us to figure out what we have to do to keep people safe.”
The problem for the club is money. Making changes to the building could cost tens of thousands of dollars. And while the Hudson Street Hooligans are prominent supporters of The Crew, there’s no financial tie between the club and the team.
“On behalf of the club I just wanted to come here and really express The Crew’s support of the Hooligans and our willingness to do whatever we can to help resolve this issue,” said Mark McCullers, The Crew’s president and general manager.
“It just shows the passion and the commitment that these guys have for the Columbus Crew and that means a lot to us, it really does,” McCullers said. “And so it’s only appropriate that we’re going to do whatever we can to support them and help them work through this issue and I’m sure we can do it.”
Negotiations between the Hudson Street Hooligans and the city are on-going.