As a charter franchise in Major League Soccer (MLS), the Columbus Crew commenced play at Ohio Stadium in MLS's inaugural season of 1996. As it is principally an American football stadium, the facility was never popular with the team or its fans. When renovations to the American football stadium forced the Crew out, their owner, oil billionaire Lamar Hunt, decided to build the team its own dedicated home. Thus, Crew Stadium was born — purpose-built for the Columbus Crew in the winter of 1998-99. The construction cost of $28.5 million was covered entirely with private funds from Mr. Hunt and his Hunt Sports group.