The Columbus Crew's stadium has a name. And you may be wondering: 'Who the heck is Lower?'

Jim Weiker
The Columbus Dispatch CEO Dan Snyder stands inside the Crew's new stadium, for which his company bought naming rights for an undisclosed amount. "We're the best-kept secret in town. ... This Crew stadium announcement is our coming-out party," he said.

When the Columbus Crew announced in 2015 that its stadium would bear the name of the Spanish insurance company Mapfre, fans might have wondered "Mapfre who?"

They might have had the same reaction Tuesday, when the Crew said its new Arena District stadium would be called Field.

"Yeah, people may be wondering, 'Who the heck is Lower?' " said Dan Snyder, the company's co-founder and CEO, before Tuesday's news conference announcing the partnership.

"We're the best-kept secret in town. ... This Crew stadium announcement is our coming-out party."

The Crew's new $313.9 million, 20,000-seat stadium was been officially named Field.

Lower might not be well known, but, unlike Mapfre, it is locally grown.

How started in Columbus area

Snyder founded the company in 2014 as mortgage company Homeside Financial, adding the Lower brand four years later.

While at Homeside, Snyder saw a need for a comprehensive online service for prospective homebuyers who aren't sure where to begin.

"Our mission is to help people who want to build wealth through homeownership," he said.

The result is Lower, which the company bills as a one-stop-shop for homebuyers and homeowners. Lower provides mortgages and insurance for home buyers, and connects home shoppers with real estate agents. 

In addition, the company offers mortgage refinances, a savings program for those trying to build a down payment, and advice for those thinking of buying. Snyder anticipates adding more items to the menu, such as a larger network of real estate agent partners and more financial services.

"Anything that allows a homebuyer to obtain a home for less money and more easily, we want to offer," he said.

Lower is similar to SoFi and Rocket Mortgage and carved a niche

The company says it can provide many of its services at a lower cost than traditional companies, in part because it operates no brick-and-mortar locations.

Snyder said the service is especially attractive to younger buyers who don't care about going to a traditional lender and who want a variety of services in one place. He likens Lower to SoFi or Rocket Mortgage, two fast-growing web companies that provide a variety of financial services, including mortgages and refinancing.

Lower quickly carved a niche in the crowded field of real estate financial services. In a little more than two years, the company says it has received more than 140,000 loan applications and funded more than $2 billion in loans. 

Starting with eight Homeside employees in a temporary office at Easton, the company has exploded to about 1,600 employees, with 1,000 of them based locally in the former Bob Evans headquarters on Smith's Mill Road in New Albany, which Lower overhauled this spring into a millennial-friendly crib, complete with pool and shuffleboard tables, televisions, coffee bars, a hair salon, cafe and sofas.

One of Columbus 'best places to work'

The company was named the best large place to work by Columbus CEO this year.

The company's annual revenue has risen to about $300 million, large enough for the company to go public, Snyder said. Still he said, he is planning to grow it more before taking it public, which he said is "100%" in the company's plans. 

"Our goal is to be No. 1 lender in the country," he said.

The decision to partner with the Crew is a huge step forward in expanding the company's reach. Terms of the naming-rights deal were not disclosed.

"Very few companies ever get to name a stadium, let alone a brand-new one, in their hometown," Snyder said. "It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Each week, the firm adds a few dozen employees, which is one reason for the Crew affiliation: The company is eager to get its name out among prospective employees.

"After this, we're hoping to have more," Snyder said. "We're on a recruiting spree."

Dan Snyder, founder of Lower, announces the company's partnership with the Crew on Tuesday, with Crew co-owner Dee Haslam and Chief Business Officer Steve Lyons.

Crew co-owner Dee Haslam and Crew Business Officer Steve Lyons described the team's partnership with Lower as a perfect match.

"We share the same goals ... upward trajectory," Lyons said at Tuesday's news conference.

The deal calls for the Lower name to be displayed in six places around the stadium, including the roof. With opening day just 2½ weeks off, it's a tight timeline.

"Please God, get at least one sign up before July 3," Snyder joked.