Our weekly series, Live to Explore Cbus, features Columbus’ thriving neighborhoods through the eyes of influential people who live, work and play in the area. Discover personal stories, favorite locales and best kept secrets about the neighborhoods that make our city so special, from the people who experience them every day! 

This week, we’re highlighting the Arena District with Dante Washington, director of team strategic partnerships and business development with the Columbus Crew SC and former striker for the Crew.

Why is the Arena District so special to you?

I view the Arena District as the “heart of the city.” I grew up in the Baltimore/DC area, so I like the energy of cities, and I believe the Arena District in Columbus provides that energy and entertainment options. I worked at Nationwide for eight years – over that time I became acquainted with the neighborhood and everything it has to offer. I’m excited that Columbus Crew SC will now be a part of that environment.

Lights dazzle at night in the Arena District of Columbus, Ohio.

What are you looking forward to most about the new stadium in the Arena District?

It is going to provide an exciting and more intimate feel to our matches. Along with that, I think it will give our supporters an opportunity to start new traditions in their new home. It will be easy to navigate to the new downtown stadium and I think that our fans will appreciate the feeling of a “march” on matchdays.

Columbus officials gather for the Columbus Crew SC's new downtown stadium groundbreaking in the Arena District

How do you think the Arena District environment and location will shape the future of Columbus Crew SC?

When you look at the teams that are already down there – Clippers and the Blue Jackets, those two organizations provide so much entertainment already and I believe our presence will be a great addition to the environment they’ve helped create down in the Arena District. The new downtown stadium will be the best-in-class stadium in the MLS and there is no better spot for that than the Arena District.

What was your first reaction when you heard the Crew stadium would be moving downtown?

Hearing that made me excited for the future of the Club and the possibilities that the Arena District will provide, not only for the Club but for Columbus residents. When we broke ground on the site in October 2019, it was an uplifting experience. We had 3,500+ supporters and Columbus residents at this event on a Thursday afternoon. I believe that speaks volumes about the support we have among the community and how important our supporters are to the Club.

The first steel beam at Columbus Crew SC's new downtown stadium in the Arena District

Why should visitors and residents of Columbus spend time in the Arena District?

The Arena District is the pulse of downtown Columbus. It’s a spot in the city that can provide a “nightlife” ambience filled with concerts and sporting events, but not to the point where you feel overwhelmed. That is the same energy we’re trying to bring to the area. We want to provide Columbus with first-class entertainment options. Not only on matchdays but on non-matchdays as well. Having our Plaza outside of the stadium and our Crewhouse available for the public will give residents more reason to visit the neighborhood.

Construction at the building of Columbus Crew SC's new downtown stadium in the Arena District