Columbus Crew SC

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Columbus Crew SC
Columbus Crew SC Logo.svg
Full name Columbus Crew Soccer Club[1]
Nickname(s) Crew SC, CCSC, The Black & Gold, The Crew
Founded May 10, 1994
Stadium Mapfre Stadium
Columbus, Ohio
Ground Capacity 20,145[2]
Owner Precourt Sports Ventures LLC
Head Coach Gregg Berhalter
League Major League Soccer
2014 Eastern Conference: 3rd
Overall: 7th
Playoffs: Conference Semifinals
Website Club home page
Current season

Columbus Crew SC is an American professional soccer club based in Columbus, Ohio which competes in Major League Soccer (MLS). It is one of the ten charter clubs of MLS, having competed in the league since its inception.[3] Crew SC is owned by Anthony Precourt and Precourt Sports Ventures LLC. Precourt became the second owner in the history of the club on July 30, 2013.[4] The club's head coach is Gregg Berhalter.

The club was founded in 1996 and originally known as the Columbus Crew, without any markers of its membership as a soccer club, until late 2014, when the club revealed a new logo and the addition of 'SC' to its moniker.

Crew SC currently plays its home games at Mapfre Stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium ever built for a MLS team, with a seating capacity of 19,968 as of the 2014 season. From 1996 to 1998, Crew SC played its home games at Ohio Stadium on the campus of the Ohio State University.[3] In 2014, the club's 19th season at Crew Stadium, the Black & Gold set attendance records for both most cumulative attendance and most sellouts.[5]

Crew SC has won five major trophies: MLS Cup 2008, the 2004, 2008, and 2009 Supporters' Shields, and the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.


The Beginning: 1994–1998[edit]

The Crew played their first game on April 13, 1996 at the Ohio Stadium

On June 15, 1994, Major League Soccer announced that Columbus, Ohio, would be home to one of the ten founding members of the new top flight North American professional soccer league. Columbus had promised construction of a soccer-specific stadium and had sold over 12,000 season ticket deposits.[6] MLS investor Lamar Hunt, and his son Clark became the owners of both the Columbus Crew and Kansas City Wizards in 1996. The first players for the Crew were South African national team veteran Doctor Khumalo, by assignment, and Brian McBride. McBride was selected as the first overall pick in MLS's first draft in 1996. Former U.S. National Team coach Timo Liekoski would be the team's head coach for its first season.[7][8]

The Crew played their first game on April 13, 1996 against D.C. United and won 4–0 in front of a home crowd of 25,266 in Ohio Stadium.[9] Columbus would struggle, however, winning only 5 of their next 21 games. After the 6-16 start, Tom Fitzgerald replaced head coach Liekoski.[10] The Crew, under Fitzgerald, won 9 of their last 10 games to finish fourth in the Eastern Conference. They went on to lose in the conference semifinals of the playoffs.[11]

The Black & Gold finished 15-17 in both 1997 and 1998, which put them in third and fourth place, respectively, in the Eastern Conference. Each season ended with losses in the Conference Finals to D.C. United. The Crew reached the 1998 U.S. Open Cup Final, which was postponed due to a hurricane and controversially relocated from Virginia Beach to Soldier Field in Chicago then the home of Chicago Fire, who won the match 2 to 1 after extra time. Stern John, in his first of two seasons with Columbus, was the 1998 scoring champion, amassing 26 goals and 5 assists.[8][11]

A New Home: 1999–2003[edit]

Columbus' 1999 season began with the opening of Columbus Crew Stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium in the United States. Columbus won their first game in the stadium, 2–0, against New England Revolution in front of a sell-out crowd of 24,741. Columbus would finish in second place in at 19-13, but would lose in the conference finals to D.C. United for the third straight season. The 1999 season was the last for Stern John who scored 52 goals in 65 games for the club.[8]

Dante Washington was acquired from the Dallas Burn to replace John, but his 13 goals in 2000 was not enough to propel the Crew to the playoffs. For the first time, Columbus failed to reach the postseason. Columbus got off to a slow 1-3-2 start in 2001, which led to the replacement of coach Tom Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald, who had coached 161 of the Crew's first 183 MLS matches over parts of six seasons between 1996 and 2001, was replaced by Greg Andrulis. Andrulis would lead the Black & Gold to a 2nd place finish in 2001 but the team was ousted from the playoffs in the league quarterfinals.[8][11]

In 2002, Columbus would win the U.S. Open Cup for the first time in team history. They advanced to the finals by beating the Richmond Kickers, NY/NJ MetroStars, and Kansas City Wizards. In the final, they beat LA Galaxy, who had just won the MLS Cup earlier in the week. Freddy García scored the only goal and keeper Jon Busch posted the shutout in Columbus's 1–0 win. It was the first championship in team history.[12] The Crew finished 11-12-5 in the regular season and finished in a tie for first place. They lost in the league semi-finals to New England. Kyle Martino won rookie of the year in 2002, a first for the Crew. By winning the 2002 U.S. Open Cup, Columbus received a bid to play in the 2003 CONCACAF Champions' Cup. They advanced to the second round by beating Árabe Unido (Panama) 4–2 on aggregate in the first round before losing to Monarcas Morelia, 6–2. McBride would play his final season with Columbus in 2003 before joining Fulham of the Premier League.[8][11]

Transitions: 2004–2006[edit]

With the departure of McBride, Columbus added Robin Fraser and Simon Elliott to the club. These additions proved to be vital as Fraser went on to win the Defender of the Year award in 2004. The Crew set a franchise record for points, 49, by going 12-5-13, thanks in part to an 18-game unbeaten streak (8-0-10) to end the season. Despite winning the Supporters' Shield for best record in the league, the club would be eliminated from the MLS Cup in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. In his last season for the Black & Gold, Jeff Cunningham scored his 62nd goal, which tied him with McBride for the franchise record.[8][11]

Over both of the next two seasons, Columbus battled injuries to several players and struggled to win games. Despite winning the MLS Coach of the Year Award in 2004,[13] Andrulis was replaced on an interim basis by Robert Warzycha midway through the 2005 season. After missing playoffs in the 2005 season, the club would hire former L.A. Galaxy and UCLA head coach Sigi Schmid. Schmid had won an MLS Cup and U.S. Open Championship in six seasons with Galaxy.[14] Warzycha remained on staff under Schmid. In 2006, the Crew went on a 13-game winless streak (0-7-6) between June 10 and August 19. The season ended on a tragic note when team founder and owner Lamar Hunt died on December 14, 2006.[8][11][15]

The Barros Schelotto Era: 2007–2010[edit]

The Crew signed Guillermo Barros Schelotto in 2007, who helped them to their first MLS Cup the next year

The 2007 season in Major League Soccer started with news that global icon David Beckham signed with the Los Angeles Galaxy.[16] The Crew followed suit by signing Guillermo Barros Schelotto on April 19, 2007.[17] Columbus also signed forward Alejandro Moreno to bolster its attack. Even with these new players, the Crew still missed the play-offs in 2007.[8]

In 2008, the Crew won its first MLS Cup. Led by Barros Schelotto, who scored seven goals and had 19 assists and won the MLS Most Valuable Player Award,[18] the team also won its second Supporters' Shield. After going 17-7-6 in the regular season, the Black & Gold won playoff games against Kansas City and Chicago Fire before beating the New York Red Bulls 3–1 in the final. Chad Marshall won MLS Defender of the Year award, and Sigi Schmid won Coach of the Year.[8][11]

After the 2008 season, Sigi Schmid left Columbus to coach the Seattle Sounders, and the team named former player and assistant coach Robert Warzycha head coach. In 2009, Barros Schelotto was rewarded with the honor of becoming the franchise's first Designated Player.[19] The club went 13-7-10 in the regular season, good enough for 49 points and their second consecutive Supporters' Shield. The Crew was eliminated by Real Salt Lake in the two-legged Eastern Conference Semi-finals, 4–2 on aggregate. Chad Marshall won his second consecutive MLS Defender of the Year award.[8]

Columbus started the 2010 season in the CONCACAF Champions League. They reached the quarterfinals, but lost to Toluca FC of Mexico in March. The club finished the season 14-8-8, but lost in the quarter-finals of the MLS Cup to the Colorado Rapids. The Crew lost 2–1 in the 2010 U.S. Open Cup Final at Qwest Field, home of Seattle Sounders.[8]

2011 through 2013[edit]

In 2011 the Black & Gold finished ninth in the league at 13-13-8 and lost in the wild card round of the playoffs to the Colorado Rapids.[20][21]

In 2012, the club finished 6th in the Eastern Conference with a 15-12-7 record. They narrowly missed the playoffs.

On September 2, 2013 the Crew parted ways with Head Coach Robert Warzycha after a rough season up to that point. Brian Bliss, the Crew's technical director, took over as interim head coach.[22]

The Precourt Era: 2013–present[edit]

On July 30, 2013, Anthony Precourt became the second Investor-Operator in the history of the club.[4] Precourt wasted little time in getting to work by upgrading portions of Crew Stadium, as well as evolving the team's brand in a way that identified with the city of Columbus, all within his first 15 months with the club.

On November 6, 2013, Precourt announced that Gregg Berhalter would be the club's new Head Coach.[23] Berhalter also became the first Sporting Director in club history.

The 2014 season saw Columbus return to the postseason for the first time since 2011. Under Berhalter, the Crew finished the year 14-10-10, good enough for the third seed in the Eastern Conference of the MLS Cup Playoffs.

The Crew also sent two of its players to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Center back Giancarlo Gonzalez, as well as left back Waylon Francis represented Costa Rica during the tournament. Gonzalez was hailed for his performance, being named to ESPN’s Best XI of the group stage.[24]

Berhalter was nominated for 2014 MLS Head Coach of the Year. Likewise, goalkeeper Steve Clark was nominated for 2014 Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year and Michael Parkhurst won the Xbox Individual Fair Play Award for the third time.[25]

Off the field, the Black & Gold announced sports industry veteran Andy Loughnane as its new President of Business Operations on August 16, 2014. [26]

The combination of the club's on field success and off-field resurgence capped a successful full first year for Precourt and Berhalter. The team set the all-time attendance record and sellout record for a single season at Crew Stadium.[5]

Colors and badge[edit]

The club's original logo, 1996–2014.

The official colors of Columbus Crew SC are black and gold. Columbus' usual primary jersey is predominately bright yellow with black trim, and has been nicknamed the "banana kit" or "canary kit" by fans.

The alternate kit has historically been black. In the latter part of the 2000s, The Crew began shifting more towards a white kit with yellow and black trim or stripes. Even so, the away kits are seldom worn by The Crew due to the strong favor shown to the traditional home kit; and also due to the fact that the historically black jerseys compound the summer heat in the United States climate. For the 2015 season, Crew SC has returned to a black jersey for its alternate kit.

Prior to the initial MLS season a city-wide public contest was created to decide the name for the team, the very first entry was a hit, and the Columbus Crew was born.

The club badge from 1996 to 2014 was unique amongst MLS teams in that it featured people, containing three silhouetted males wearing construction hats beneath a stylized "Crew" wordmark. The logo was intended to represent a crew of hard working people, much like the hard-working, blue collar image the city of Columbus cultivates.

Citing a disconnect between what the crest stood for and the 21st-century identity of the city of Columbus, owner Anthony Precourt initiated a rebrand upon assuming ownership in 2013. Precourt said that Columbus was no longer a true blue collar town, and that the industrial/manufacturing motif was no longer representative. In fact, Columbus had grown into a 21st-century city and become much more "dynamic and diverse."[27]

On October 8, 2014, the Crew unveiled a new badge. The new circular-shaped badge features the club’s classic black and gold colors, a minimized original crest with "96" overlayed on top, and the black and gold checkerboard pattern predominantly seen on flags waving in the Nordecke.[28] A great deal of symbolism was packed into the new badge. The horizontal stripes are representative of the ten original MLS franchises, and the shield is an homage to the club's original badge with the 96 representing 1996 — the club's first year in competition. Finally, the inset "O" in the badge mimics the same shape found in Ohio state flag, a nod to Columbus's role as the state's capital city.


Initially the Columbus Crew played their home games at the 102,000-capacity Ohio Stadium, home of the Ohio State Buckeyes college football team. They ended with a 33-20 record while playing there.

On May 15, 1999, the Crew opened Columbus Crew Stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium in Major League Soccer, as the Crew beat the New England Revolution 2–0 before a sold-out crowd of 24,741. It has been the model stadium for the rest of the league, and one of the stadiums used by the United States national team in World Cup qualifying. In 2015, the naming rights for the stadium were purchased by Madrid-based insurance company Mapfre, whose U.S headquarters is in Boston, Massachusetts and who maintain a regional office in Columbus.

The team has also played Open Cup games at two other stadiums: one game in 2005 at the Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium, also owned by the Ohio State University; and one in 2014 at the FirstEnergy Stadium–Cub Cadet Field in Akron, Ohio.

Revenue and Profitability[edit]

Having lost money in 2011, in 2012 the Crew identified three financial goals with the aim of achieving financial stability.[29] First, the team wanted a New Jersey sponsor, which it achieved when they reached a deal with Barbasol. Second, the team wanted to sell naming rights to the Columbus Crew Stadium, hoping for $15 million over 10 years. Third, the Crew had announced in September 2011 that it aimed to increase season-ticket sales from its current levels (later revealed to be 4,000) to 10,000.[29][30] By November 2012, Crew season tickets were at 6,000,[30] and by August 2013, the Crew had surpassed 7,000 season ticket holders.[31]

Under Precourt Sports Ventures, Anthony Precourt and Andy Loughnane, Crew SC’s goals have shifted from exclusively focusing on season ticket sales to selling out Crew Stadium. In 2014, the club set all-time Stadium attendance records for highest overall attendance and most sellouts in one season. Loughnane confirmed that the club was trending to increase its Season Ticket Membership by 1,000 Members per year and also stated his intent for the club to assimilate into the corporate community and fan culture, adding that he believes this transformation is happening rapidly.[32]


The Black & Gold signed a five-year deal in early 2012 with Barbasol as the team's shirt sponsor. The deal with Barbasol — which is based in Dublin, Ohio — is the most lucrative sponsorship deal in franchise history, although financial terms were not disclosed.[33] Previously, Glidden was the Crew's shirt sponsor from 2008 to 2010, a deal worth $1 million per year.[33] The Crew's initial jersey sponsorship was with Snickers.[34][not in citation given]

Club culture[edit]

Supporters: The Nordecke Transformation[edit]

Before the 2008 season, the Columbus Crew front office demolished the north stands where the most ardent of Crew supporters stood, in order to build a stage that would provide additional revenue by facilitating concerts and other events. Prior to this, the team's three supporters groups (Crew Supporters Union, Hudson Street Hooligans, and La Turbina Amarilla) sat apart because of differences between the groups ranging from age to ethnicity. The building of the stage forced the groups to come together into the north corner of the stadium, forming one large block of vocal and artistic support. Putting their differences aside the three groups formed the "Nordecke," (pronounced Nord-eck-eh) which is German for "North Corner." The name "Nordecke" celebrates the city's German heritage.

In 2008 a large contingency of fans from the Nordecke began traveling together to support the Crew during their away campaigns. In late 2009/early 2010 the term "NorOnTour" grew popular on social networking, to describe the frequent fan traveling support.[35]


The Crew has a rivalry with the Chicago Fire.[36] Columbus is roughly a six-hour drive away from Chicago. Due to the relative close proximity of the two cities, it is not uncommon for supporters of both teams to make the trip to support their club in matches between the two. In the 2008 season, Columbus defeated Chicago in the Eastern Conference Championship match. In 1998, Chicago defeated Columbus for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

MLS frames matches between Toronto FC and Columbus as a rivalry, creating a trophy called the Trillium Cup, awarded to the team that wins the rivalry.[36] The Crew contests F.C. Dallas for the Lamar Hunt Pioneer Cup. Lamar Hunt was the owner of both of these teams until his death.


The Crew was the first MLS team to land a local television network, when they did so in March 1996. Crew matches are currently broadcast on Time Warner SportsChannel Ohio, with Dwight Burgess providing play-by-play commentary, Chris Doran giving analysis and Ashleigh Ignelzi as the sideline reporter. Select games are broadcast nationally on NBC Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2, UniMás, and Univision Deportes.[37]

Starting with the 2015 season, English radio broadcasts can be heard on 102.5 WWCD-FM with Neil Sika as play-by-play commentator and John Bluem as color commentator.[38] All broadcasts on WWCD are accompanied by 30-minute pre- and post-game shows. Spanish radio broadcasts can be heard on 103.1 FM WVKO-FM with Carlos Cordova and Juan Valladares calling all home and road games and include 15-minute pre- and post-game shows.[39]

Players and staff[edit]

For details on former players, see All-time Columbus Crew roster.

Current roster[edit]

Where a player has not declared an international allegiance, nation is determined by place of birth. Squad correct as of January 30, 2015.[40]

No. Position Player Nation
1 Goalkeeper Clark, SteveSteve Clark      United States
2 Defender Wahl, TysonTyson Wahl      United States
3 Defender Klute, ChrisChris Klute      United States
4 Defender Parkhurst, MichaelMichael Parkhurst (Captain)     United States
5 Defender Pogatetz, EmanuelEmanuel Pogatetz      Austria
6 Midfielder Tchani, TonyTony Tchani      Cameroon
7 Midfielder Steindórsson, KristinnKristinn Steindórsson      Iceland
8 Midfielder Saeid, MohammedMohammed Saeid      Sweden
9 Forward Meram, JustinJustin Meram      Iraq
10 Forward Higuaín, FedericoFederico Higuaín (DP)     Argentina
12 Midfielder George, KevanKevan George      Trinidad and Tobago
13 Midfielder Finlay, EthanEthan Finlay      United States
14 Defender Francis, WaylonWaylon Francis      Costa Rica
16 Midfielder Jiménez, HectorHector Jiménez      United States
17 Forward Speas, BenBen Speas (HGP)     United States
18 Forward Schoenfeld, AaronAaron Schoenfeld      United States
19 Midfielder Gall, RomainRomain Gall      United States
20 Midfielder Trapp, WilWil Trapp (HGP)     United States
21 Defender Barson, ChadChad Barson (HGP)     United States
23 Forward Kamara, KeiKei Kamara      Sierra Leone
24 Defender Campbell, SergioSergio Campbell      Jamaica
26 Midfielder Swanson, BenBen Swanson (HGP)     United States
27 Defender Grana, HernánHernán Grana      Argentina
28 Goalkeeper Lampson, MattMatt Lampson (HGP)     United States
29 Forward Bedell, AdamAdam Bedell      United States
41 Goalkeeper Stuver, BradBrad Stuver      United States

Out on loan[edit]

No. Position Player Nation
22 Defender Ryden, KalenKalen Ryden (on loan to Austin Aztex)     United States
Forward Mabwati, CedrickCedrick Mabwati (on loan to Osasuna)     Democratic Republic of the Congo

Head coaches[edit]

The Crew has had six different head coaches since the joined the league in 1996. Timo Liekoski, the only Finnish head coach in MLS history, was the first head coach in 1996, but started 6-16 and was fired midseason to be replaced by Tom Fitzgerald.[41] Sigi Schmid managed the team for three seasons (2006–08) Robert Warzycha was the head coach twice, the first time on an interim basis prior to Schmid's arrival and then immediately after Schmid left until September 2, 2013, when he was fired and Brian Bliss became the interim coach. On November 16, 2013 it was announced that Gregg Berhalter would become the Head Coach as well as the first Sporting Director in club history.[42]

Fitzgerald and Warzycha are currently tied for the all-time leader in regular season wins (70).[43]




Season MLS Regular Season MLS Cup Playoffs Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup CONCACAF Champions Cup /
CONCACAF Champions League
1996 4th, East (15-17) Lost Conference Semi-Finals (Tampa Bay Mutiny 1–2) Did not enter Did not qualify
1997 3rd, East (15-17) Won Conference Semi-Finals (Tampa Bay Mutiny 2–0)
Lost Conference Finals (D.C. United 0–2)
Did not enter Did not qualify
1998 2nd, East (15-17) Won Conference Semi-Finals (New York Red Bulls 2–0)
Lost Conference Finals (D.C. United 1–2)
Final Did not qualify
1999 2nd, East (19-13) Won Conference Semi-Finals (Tampa Bay Mutiny 2–0)
Lost Conference Finals (D.C. United 1–2)
Semi-Finals Did not qualify
2000 4th, Central (11-16-5) Did not qualify Quarter-Finals Did not qualify
2001 2nd, Central (13-7-6) Lost Quarter-Finals (San Jose Earthquakes 0–2) Quarter-Finals Not held
2002 2nd, East (11-12-5) Won Conference Semi-Finals (San Jose Earthquakes 2–0)
Lost Conference Finals (New England 0–2)
Champions Did not qualify
2003 5th, East (10-12-8) Did not qualify Round of 16 Quarter-Finals
2004 1st, East* (12-5-13) Lost Conference Semi-Finals (New England Revolution 1–2) Round of 16 Did not qualify
2005 6th, East (11-16-5) Did not qualify Round of 16 Did not qualify
2006 6th, East (8-15-9) Did not qualify Round of 16 Did not qualify
2007 6th, East (9-11-10) Did not qualify Did not qualify Did not qualify
2008 1st, East* (17-7-6) Won Conference Semi-Finals (Kansas City Wizards 3–1)
Won Conference Finals (Chicago Fire 2–1)
Won MLS Cup (New York Red Bulls 3–1)
Did not qualify Did not qualify
2009 1st, East* (13-7-10) Lost Conference Semi-Finals (Real Salt Lake 2–3) Round of 16 Did not qualify
2010 2nd, East (14-8-8) Lost Conference Semi-Finals (Colorado Rapids 4–5) Final Quarter-Finals (09-10)
2011 4th, East (13-13-8) Lost Wild Card (Colorado Rapids 0–1) Third Round Quarter-Finals (10-11)
2012 6th, East (15-12-7) Did not qualify Third Round Did not qualify (11–12)
2013 8th, East (12-17-5) Did not qualify Round of 16 Did not qualify (12-13)
2014 3rd, East (14-10-10) Lost Conference Semi-Finals (New England Revolution 3-7) Round of 16 Did not qualify (13-14)

* Won MLS Supporters Shield
† Made the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Giants Cup which was held instead of the CONCACAF Champions' Cup in 2001

International tournaments[edit]

First round v. Costa Rica Deportivo Saprissa -- 0:2, 1:1 (Saprissa advance 3:1 on aggregate)
First round v. Panama Arabe Unido -- 1:2, 3:0 (Crew advance 4:2 on aggregate)
Quarter-Final v. Mexico Monarcas Morelia -- 0:6, 2:0 (Morelia advance 6:2 on aggregate)
Group Stage
v. Puerto Rico Puerto Rico Islanders 2:0, 1:1
v. Mexico Cruz Azul 0:5, 0:2
v. Costa Rica Saprissa 1:0, 1:1
Quarter-Final v. Mexico Toluca 2:2, 2:3 (Toluca advances 5:4 on aggregate)
Group Stage
v. Guatemala Municipal 1:0, 1:2
v. Trinidad and Tobago Joe Public 3:0, 4:1
v. Mexico Santos Laguna 1:0, 0:1
Quarter-Final v. United States Real Salt Lake 0:0, 1:4 (Real Salt Lake advances 4:1 on aggregate)

Columbus holds a 7-5-3 all-time record in international friendlies.

Team records[edit]

MLS regular season only, through 2013 season

  • All-time regular season record: 247-232-111 (Through End of 2014 regular season)[44]

Average attendance[edit]

regular season/playoffs

  • 1996: 18,950/20,807
  • 1997: 15,043/11,304
  • 1998: 12,275/12,094
  • 1999: 17,696/10,983
  • 2000: 15,451/Missed playoffs
  • 2001: 17,551/20,883
  • 2002: 17,429/11,624
  • 2003: 16,250/Missed playoffs
  • 2004: 16,872/15,224
  • 2005: 12,916/Missed playoffs
  • 2006: 13,294/Missed playoffs
  • 2007: 15,230/Missed playoffs
  • 2008: 14,622/17,613
  • 2009: 14,175/10,109
  • 2010: 14,642/10,322
  • 2011: 12,185/No home games in playoffs
  • 2012: 14,397/Missed playoffs
  • 2013: 16,080/Missed playoffs
  • 2014: 16,881/9,040[45]
  • All-time: 15,336/11,576
  • All-time highest attendance for a game: 53,844 on April 7, 2000 at Mile High Stadium.



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External links[edit]