The Columbus Crew Rebranding Incorporates the "Columbus Love" Mural

The beloved mural now includes the soccer team’s controversial new “C” logo.

Suzanne Goldsmith
The "Columbus Love" mural with the new Columbus Crew "C" logo

The Columbus Crew—whoops, Columbus S.C.—“took over” the “Columbus Love” mural early this morning by hanging their new logo in front of the “C.” The move, which has been planned for some weeks, was part of the rollout of new branding for the soccer club.

The architect who created the mural and who owns the building it graces at 216 E. Main St says he gave permission for the installation of the new logo. “They reached out about a month ago,” Nick Kinney said this morning when we caught up with him outside the building, which houses his studio as well as Lev’s Pawnshop.

Architect Nick Kinney in front of his Columbus Love mural.

Photos of the mural were included in early renderings for the new Crew Stadium, Kinney said, and he had conversations with the team’s ownership about creating a copy for that space. But in the end, it made sense not to duplicate the mural inside a stadium. “The whole idea is that it’s free for everybody,” Kinney said.

When the idea emerged to incorporate the original mural in the rollout of the new Crew branding effort this week, he was on-board. “The marketing guy from the Crew said, ‘If it’s not well-received, we’ll come and take it out,’ ” Kinney said.

That announcement has been rocky, with members of the Crew faithful raising objections to the name change—from Columbus Crew to Columbus S.C.—on social media and in press interviews. General manager Tim Bezbatchenko defended the move. “When we started to think about what our new mindset and mentality was and how we want to take Columbus to the world, it felt like this needed to happen," he told The Columbus Dispatch.

Kinney was pleased that the installation of the logo, which is removable, coincided with his installation of upgraded LED lights on the mural. The lights, which superimpose the word “LOVE” on the painted “COLUMBUS,” have been dark for months as the electrical systems in the building were being overhauled. The new lights, which Kinney paid for, are more durable and have more functionality.

Kinney is the grandson of Lev Kucherski, who owns the pawnshop. “I wanted to show my grandfather what you could accomplish with some paint and a little creativity,” Kinney said of his inspiration for creating the mural, which in its short life has become a favorite backdrop for photo shoots, Instagram stories and impromptu dance parties.

Kinney said he’s a Crew fan. “Not a season ticket holder yet, but I am a supporter,” he said.