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Hudson Street Hooligans fundraise for bigger, better pub

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

The Hudson Street Hooligans are in the process of opening their fan pub on Summit Street after it was shut down due to a failed inspection.

The Hooligans are a Columbus Crew fan group that sits in the “Nordecke,” which is German for “north corner,” at Crew games to celebrate Columbus’ German heritage.

Hudson Street Hooligans is also the name of the group’s members-only club that opens for both the Crew and the United States’ men’s and women’s national teams’ matches at Crew Stadium. The establishment also hosts viewing parties for the Crew’s road games, national team games and other popular international fixtures.

During the off season, the Hooligans expanded their existing pub into a vacant space next door to make room for ticket and merchandise sales. The problem arose during an inspection by the City of Columbus, after which the pub’s certificate of occupancy was revoked on July 28. The Hooligans were using the space for “assembly” but the building was zoned for “mercantile use,” according to Blake Compton, the Hudson Street Hooligans’ pub administrator.

“We operated basically illegally for a year, not knowing we were doing anything wrong,” Compton said.

The inspection ruled that the building needed to be rezoned in order to operate with a liquor license, as well as come up to code on fire regulations and create a parking variance.

Currently, the pub can operate on home game days as long as the occupancy remains less than 100, Compton said.

“We are going through the review process on our building permit right now so the occupancy is undefined,” Compton said.

All of this rezoning and construction comes with a hefty price tag.

“Renovations alone will probably be around $45,000-$55,000,” Compton said.

In addition to the renovations, there are city fees, such as permit application fees and pre-construction costs with the engineers and architects. In total, Compton thinks the total cost will be around $65,000.

With all of this work, some are asking if it would be easier to throw in the towel and find a new hangout.

“I’ve heard that question a lot. Proximity is so important to what we do, walking to the game is so important,” Compton said. “There’s really nothing in that area that we could utilize for ourselves. There’s plenty of other bars but nothing that’s ours.”

Since the club started fundraising about two months ago, it has raised nearly $5,000.

“Now that we have a couple of away games, we are going to try to work on some type of fundraising event,” Compton said.

The Hooligans have a faithful group of supporters who want to see their pub succeed.

“When it happened, there were so many people that stood up and stood behind me and Jon (Winland) and Grant (Thurmond), the other owners, and tried to do whatever they could to try to support us and keep us open,” Compton said. “It worked. Even though temporarily we’re only open on home game days, we still made it happen because of our members standing up for us.”

Dave Stephany, the senior director for communications and community relations at the Columbus Crew, agrees that the Crew is supportive of the Hooligans, as they have become a part of the fan experience.

“With soccer, there is so much running and it’s such a physically demanding sport that when you have that kind of force behind you, it really is a consistency, you hear from players, that it lifts your spirits and keeps you going on the field,” Stephany said.

To gain the support of the Ohio State students, Compton suggests going to a Crew game and if you enjoy the experience, you can be a part of the Hooligans.

Ben Goldfarb, a third-year in radiation therapy, is skeptical but said he would like to check out the pub when it re-opens.

“Joining a group like that sounds pretty appealing but because the place they commune got shut down due to violations, I’m not completely sure I would support the group,” Goldfarb said.

Local businesses are pitching in to lend their support. Traxler Tees created the Hooligans’ T-shirts and covered all of the up-front costs. Studio 35 Cinema & Drafthouse, also hosted an event in which a portion of the proceeds went to the Save Hooligans’ fund.

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