Hudson Street Hooligans Blake Compton, Jon Winland and Grant Thurmond
Crew fan group Hudson Street Hooligans, one of the most active soccer supporters clubs in the country, has been running a private club in the University District since May 2010. Last week, the city revoked the Hooligans' certificate of occupancy after an inspector raised concerns about the safety of using the building for "assembly" when it is approved for "mercantile" use. This is a building issue, not a zoning issue.
Hooligans brass says they are willing to comply with the necessary upgrades to bring the building up to code, but they claim the city is being inflexible and harsh by bringing down the hammer and refusing to work with them toward a long-term solution. The Hooligans believe that in effect the city is snuffing out a small business that has been a positive presence in the neighborhood and has the backing of the Crew and University Area Commission. A rally featuring Crew President & General Manager Mark McCullers is planned for noon today (Thursday, Aug. 4) outside the pub at 2236 Summit St.
The following is Hudson Street Hooligans' official statement.
Hudson Street Hooligans Pub Certificate of Occupancy Revoked
Last Thursday, July 28, the Hudson Street Hooligans Pub had its Certificate of Occupancy revoked after a City of Columbus inspection. The reason for the revocation, as stated by the city inspector, is that the building housing Hooligan's Pub is zoned for “mercantile use” and the Hudson Street Hooligans are using it for “assembly.”
The City of Columbus claims that in order to maintain occupancy, the pub must go through the proper legal channels to get the building rezoned for that use. Ownership has been told to cease any operations that fall under that use group and if they continue to operate they will receive fines and face jail time.
A building official and inspectors met with Hooligan's ownership last Friday and advised that the main issue was the safety of the patrons of the pub. Ownership agreed that safety is always a concern and stated that they are willing to work with the City but cannot afford to continue to be closed while coming into compliance.
Jon Winland, an owning partner of the club, says “We are more than willing to make the changes demanded by the city in order to remain compliant. We can make the small changes, but the big ones are just unrealistic at this point.” The estimated cost of the renovations required by the city is in the tens of thousands of dollars.
The pub – a small, members only establishment – makes most of its revenue on Columbus Crew game days. It is the first, and only, Major League Soccer supporters-owned pub in the country and a model for other businesses throughout American Soccer.
Another owning partner Grant Thurmond – a veteran of the Iraq war – says that they only want to stay open so that the renovation can be paid for and the community can continue to be served. Thurmond is in charge of many of HSH's community programs, and is currently organizing a neighborhood cleanup and a nearby Adopt-a- Highway cleanup effort. “Hooligan's,” he says, “is about more than just soccer, it's about making this part of our city a better place.”
What is most worrisome to Hooligan's ownership about this situation is that the city has come down on them swiftly, without giving many options. “As a business we cannot afford to operate much longer without figuring out a way to be open,” According to the Pub Administrator, Blake Compton. “If, by August 13 – the next Crew home game – we aren't open, I fear we may end up closing the doors for good and the University District will lose a small business that has brought much positive to the community in the last year.”
“We encourage everyone to keep in mind that this is a use issue and not a zoning issue. Use has to do with the City of Columbus Building Code.”
The ownership of Hudson Street Hooligans hosted a meeting for all members last night, August 3, to both inform the membership of the setback and to enlist help from what was referred to as a “huge group of helping hands.” Also in attendance was a representative from the University Area Commission and other community leaders. Mark McCullers, General Manager of the Columbus Crew, though not in attendance at the meeting, has stated that HSH has his full support.
There is a rally planned at the pub, 2236 Summit St., for noon on Thursday August 4 to garner support for the pub and the surrounding community. Mark McCullers will be present to make a statement to the media, as will other community leaders. All are welcome to attend, regardless of HSH membership.