The Arena Chronicles: Part IV — Arena Requires Public Participation

In Parts I through III of this series, we examined the historical background leading up to the development of Nationwide Arena, the circumstances confronted by all of the involved parties today, and some options for addressing these issues in the future.  In Part IV, we examine the landscape throughout the NHL, finding that the Columbus situation is truly unique.

As a brief refresher for those unfamiliar with the territory, Columbus sought public funding for a downtown arena in 1997, in conjunction with its application for an expansion NHL franchise.  The Arena was to be the centerpiece of a new urban mixed-use development area, known as The Arena District, which would replace the abandoned state penitentiary and revitalize the local economy. That effort was plagued by interference from other interests and lack of sufficient time, leading to a defeat at the polls.  In a last minute effort to salvage the prospects for an NHL team, the late John McConnell stepped up to lead the ownership group, while Nationwide Insurance agreed to finance the Arena.   Over the past few years, the Blue Jackets have incurred deficits of between $9 million and $12 million dollars, due largely to the fact that the Jackets bear financial obligations for Arena operation and related expenditures, while not having access to traditional revenue sources, such as parking, naming rights, all luxury boxes, etc.  At the same time, the Arena District has more than fulfilled its promise, generating in excess of $31 million dollars of additional tax revenue each year, with that figure steadily increasing.The Blue Jackets, Nationwide and civic leaders are presently engaged in efforts to find a solution that will address all concerns.

As the debate has  freshened concerning the proper role of the public sectorwhen it comes to arena development and operation,  questions have also arisen as to the viability of the Columbus ownership model.  Delving intothe arrangements found in other NHL cities (See Table –click to enlarge) provides some significant answers.

Ownership, public financing & naming rights for NHL Arenas

To provide further explanation, ownership is Public when the arena is owned by a governmental agency or entity.  Club Affiliated refers to a situation where the ownership of the arena is vested in a private entity, in which the owner of the team is a participant.  Private ownership refers to a situation where the arena is owned by a private entity not having an ownership interest in the team.  The data was obtained from public sources, and individual numbers were included only when provided by multiple sources.  No confirmable details concerning Rexall’s naming rights deal in Edmonton were available, nor could the amount of public participation for the new Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh be determined, due to some unique aspects of the financing for that arena (mentioned below).

What should immediately catch your attention is the fact that there is only one arena in the NHL in the Private category — Nationwide Arena in Columbus.  We will examine the ramifications of that momentarily, but some other trends are worth discussing first.

Of the remaining 29 arenas, 15 are owned by some public entity, while 14 are owned, directly or indirectly, by the individuals or entities who own the NHL franchise, either individually or in partnership with others.  In looking at the club owned arenas, some common attributes can be discerned.   These arrangements tend to fall into one or more  of three categories:  1) cities where there are multiple major tenants (i.e. NBA and NHL franchises);  2) the major Canadian venues, where attendance is routinely 100%+ of capacity; or 3) mid-level markets where significant public money was provided.

Of  14 arenas owned by club-affiliated entities, 9 have one or more additional major tenants (Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Colorado, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Toronto and Washington).  Atlanta (91.7%), Buffalo (44%), Tampa (62%) and Washington (23%) also benefited from having significant percentages of their cost covered by public funding.  Of course, venues such as the Staples Center in Los Angeles and Madison Square Garden in New York are in a league of their own when it comes to event traffic.

Club-affiliated ownership allows the club to derive all of the revenue from arena operations and  take advantage of tax benefits.  When an NBA or other major tenant exists, the number of guaranteed high-revenue dates per year increases dramatically, making this a beneficial economic model.  This is particularly true in larger markets, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, etc., where musicals, ice shows, and other events must go to be successful themselves.  Buffalo and Tampa have struggled with this model, but have kept it going due to the significant level of public money originally invested, and, at least in Buffalo’s case, other holdings by the ownership group.

Smaller markets, by necessity, tend toward the public ownership model.  With these markets, the economic engine really works in reverse from the major metropolitan areas.   Touring shows and concerts strive to get into the major markets, as the media attention, higher ticket prices and longer runs insure visibility and, ultimately, profitability.  In contrast, it is the smaller market cities who are seeking to attract the concerts and touring shows.    Cities achieve a measure of legitimacy by having attractive arena venues that can handle mixed use events.   These types of entertainment offerings add to the community profile,  enhance tourism and business investment.  These, in turn increases the tax base, which permits the cycle of  development to continue. Government involvement is critical in these markets, as the utilization of the arena, at least in early years, is seldom sufficient to generate enough profit to make private investment worthwhile.   Thus, it is not surprising that virtually all of the arenas with little  or no public financing behind them are owned by club-related entities.  The two exceptions are Dallas and St. Louis.  The City of Dallas owns the American Airlines center, but the Mavericks and Stars share generously in the revenues generated.  In St. Louis, 20 corporations provided $30 million of seed money, and then provided back end guarantees for $98 million in loans to build the Scottrade Center.

So, Nationwide Arena truly stands alone in being the lone NHL venue built exclusively with private funds, yet not owned by club-related interests.  While the unique circumstances existent at the time make the evolution of this circumstance understandable, it equally clear why Columbus stands alone with this structure.

When voters rejected the combined soccer stadium/hockey arena initiative in May 1997, the backers of the NHL franchise effort had less than six weeks to find a way to provide a venue and a team ownership structure that would satisfy the NHL and be locally feasible.  There is no question of improper motivations on the part of either John McConnell or Dimon McPherson in stepping forward and providing Columbus with its first major professional team and a first class facility to host the team, and any number of community events.  The devil, however, is in the details.

Nationwide, while a generous corporate citizen of Central Ohio,  cannot completely disregard its own bottom line when projects of this magnitude are involved.  Keeping the naming rights to the building, together with many of the luxury box, parking and related revenues, helped make the project feasible, as did the breaks provided for property acquisitions for the surrounding Arena District.  This was particularly important, given that Ohio State had rejected efforts to undertake a cooperative arena development, and proceeded with a competitive venue at the same time.

The essential problem is that you have now injected two private enterprises — Nationwide and the Blue Jackets — into a situation where even a single private entity would be challenged to show a cash profit on Arena operations.  For their part, the Jackets lease assumed financial responsibility for arena operations and their practice facility, together with rent and other expenses, without obtaining any of the benefits of arena ownership.  Traditional revenue streams are not at their disposal, as they have been pre-empted by Nationwide.   As the chart shows, having naming rights alone would significantly impact the financial picture in a positive way.

Ironically, it is the one aspect of the Nationwide model over which voters were most skeptical that has proven to be the greatest success — The Arena District. Voters simply did not believe that the old penitentiary site could be transformed into an economically revitalized area.  As every study has shown, the District has vastly exceeded expectations, providing $31 million in additional tax revenue each year, with that number expected to reach $60 million in the near future.  The Arena District concept has been studied and followed in Kansas City, and is proposed in Edmonton, where  Oilers’ owner Daryl Katz, in an open letter to the community,  succinctly summarized the philosophy as follows:

The arena creates the draw for the private-sector investment and the private-sector investment generates the revenues to pay for the arena.

The Columbus voters rejected that concept in 1997, but have been reaping the benefits of the outcome since then.  Even a nominal portion of the increased tax revenue generated each year by the Arena and the surrounding District, combined with realignment of Arena ownership and lease obligations, would more than set the books straight, without increasing the tax burden.

Other smaller markets have adopted creative means of keeping their arenas financially viable.  In Carolina, a partnership between the local governments, North Carolina State University and the Hurricanes resulted in the development of the RBC Center, which hosts NC State functions, Hurricanes games, and a variety of public events.   In Pittsburgh, the new Consol Energy Center will be funded in part by $7.5 million annual contributions by casino operators awarded franchises for gambling operations in Pittsburgh.   While this is a diversion of revenue to which the local governments would otherwise be entitled, it is an “invisible” funding mechanism from the standpoint of the electorate.   The “entertainment district” concept is used in Nashville, and is being explored in Edmonton, where revenues specific to usage are developed to retire public obligations for the Arena.  The options are many and varied.

In the final analysis, economic realities dictate some degree of public participation in Arena development and operation.  Only 5 NHL arenas, including Nationwide,  were build without public funds, and three of these are major Canadian markets — Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.  The lone US venue — Boston, benefits from a deep pocketed corporate owner and a partnership with the Boston Celtics, among others.

Fortunately for all concerned, the days of the stand alone Arena are past.  The additional tax revenues and downstream economic benefits from the Arena and the Arena District more than compensate for the relatively nominal financial support that ongoing arena operations will require.  Additionally, given the far-reaching interests of Nationwide in the central Ohio area, there are numerous aveneus available for providing compensatory financial arrangements without increasing the direct tax burden upon the electorate.

Recently, a community based group, Forward Together, has emerged in Columbus, devoted to educating the public at large about the benefits the Arena and the Arena District bring to the community each year, emphasizing that the issues are not about hockey, but about the arena and the community.  Indeed, independent studies have shown that the Blue Jackets pure hockey operations run at close to a break even clip.

In this instance, being unique is not a good thing.  Now that the Arena District model has proven successful, and the community has reaped the benefit to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, it is time for the parties to establish a public/private partnership, with a common sense arena ownership and operation model.   As in Carolina, a coalition of state, local and university resources can leverage the existing facilities to maximum benefit, and insure the ongoing vitality and expansion of the Arena District for years to come, potentially extending the concept to provide funding for the troubled Columbus Symphony and other cultural resources.  The prospects are endless for a community on the verge of coming into its own.  Such was the vision of McConnell and McPherson — it is incumbent upon the community leaders to not betray that vision.

Part I of The Arena Chronicles

70 thoughts on “The Arena Chronicles: Part IV — Arena Requires Public Participation”

  1. I applaud those few posters who mentioned the horrendous lease signed by BIG MAC and the Jackets as the main financial problem of the franchise. The article stated that John McConnell never looked at or read the lease with Nationwide. Wow, was that a bad business decision. Over the past year numerous reports have stated the 12 million annual loss of the Jackets. Just once would I like to see a report on Nationwide’s financials. I can only imagine having the team pay for running the arena, giving them no income streams from concessions/suits/naming rights, a multi year tax abatement on the land from the city to name a few helps Dimon McFerson or his predecessor sleep quite nicely.
    Instead of flooding the media streams with pleas for public bailout (because this is not a public problem), all efforts and energies should be kept ‘in house’ between majority/minority owners of the Jackets and Nationwide Arena to come up with a fair lease. What is Nationwide going to do with a $200 million building collecting dust when the Jackets leave town?
    Also a concern, if an outsider sat in on that ‘in house’ meeting, wouldn’t you see two seats for every stakeholder, one one each side of the table? Don’t the majority owners on the team side become minority owners of the arena and vice versa?

  2. Dear Columbus

    We would love it if Gilbert bought your team and moved them to Cleveland where they should have been in the first place. Columbus is all about amateur football and it will always be that way.

  3. I’m a Blue Jackets loyalist who loves the Jackets and the Arena Distric. But I also respect local democracy. Two observations:

    1. It is irreponsible to reverse the voters’ judgment after the fact by committing general funds that impose a tgax on all residents.

    2. The solution? Simply add a 25-cent tax per drink to all businesses in the Arena District. The principle is simple: the users of the District should help to pay for the costs of the facility that adds to the vitality of the District. The drinks in the district are unreally cheap (by any big-city standard). An additional 25-cents per drink could help to build a fund to allay some of the operating costs, reducing the burden on the Jackets’ ownership.

  4. First off let me say this…I am a Sports and Exercise Science Major specializing in Sports Management and have had extensive discussions about this matter during classes for the past 2 years. With that being said…

    I haven’t been to alot of games at the arena. Not because of the want or need to go, it’s because of the prices they charge. I understand that not everything is controlled by either Nationwide or by Blue Jackets management. However, there are things they can control.

    First off ticket sales are down not because people don’t want to come, they want to pay a decent price for a ticket. I was at a game before the Olympic break and was in Row U seat 12 and the cost for that ticket was $25. I asked about upgrading the ticket to which I was told I could go lower for and additional $17. Not a bad price right? WRONG!!! If you check the seating chart, the $25 tickets are the last 2 rows in the upper bowl. All seats below that fall into the $44 range. I estimated that over half of those seats were empty. So here is my suggestion, instead of having empty seats, drop the price and fill them. Depending on where you are in the arena, the upper bowl has an average of 20 rows. How about you change the seating chart and make it so the top 10 rows are $25 and the bottom 8 rows are $35 and front 2 rows are $40? I would be willing to spend the extra few dollars to be down closer in that case. Wouldn’t you?

    Second thing is the food. Most arenas don’t own the food concessions, but have contracts with companies. If they did, they would be loosing money because of the cost to buy the equpiment, the food, paying the employees to run the stands, etc. So what they get is little hastle and a cut of the profit. At the last game I went to, I bought 6 hot dogs (on $1 dog nite) and a drink and the total came to $12. I’m sorry but for $6 I can buy a 24 pk of coke, or 5 – 2 liters, but the bonus is I get a cup? A “Big Can” of beer is $8. Last time I checked I could buy a 12 pk of Bud Light from the grocery store for that price. Bottom line is drop the price of food. It’s too expensive and it’s stadium food not something we would get at better sports bar here in Columbus.

    Finally, it’s the management themselves. If they can’t see the problems and make changes like these, then they need to be looked at by their bosses and some changes need to be made. We have all seen the cut back companies are making and doing the same with less people. People are having to work harder for the same or lower pay and are expected to do better. Since we forget that “Work smarter and not harder” is worse than “Working harder and not thinking” is how this mess started in the 1st place.

    Since times are tough you want to make sure that you are getting every dollar in hand and through the door as you can. If you can’t see that, and make the changes needed to make sure that they are improving then it’s time for better decisions and changes to be made.

  5. This needs to be worked out between the CBJ and Nationwide.

    If it’s true, as a previous commenter noted, that Nationwide owns not only the Arena building, but much of the land surrounding it, then Nationwide has as much incentive to work out a reasonable arrangement as the CBJ.

    If the CBJ folds or leaves town, what will Nationwide do with an empty building, district businesses that can’t pay their rent, and plummeting property values in the surrounding area? Nationwide is hoping and praying the public will be forced into subsidizing their sweet deal. Nationwide should step up and work with the CBJ before they both take a bath.

  6. Nobody wanted Columbus Crew Stadium either. Thankfully Lamar Hunt paid for it. So now, 12 years later that stadium has been the catalyst for the entire league to build soccer specific stadium. Columbus sports fans are bandwagon and fairweather.

  7. Columbus is not a hockey town? Look at the plethora of rinks that have sprung up all over the place! Look at all the youth hockey that thrives in and around Columbus! I’ve lived in many cities throughout the world (Columbus for two years), and I can’t think of a North American city that far south with as many sheets of ice, an obvious sign that at least the youth (the future of hockey in Columbus) are excited about hockey! I live near Seattle now, the home of the first US Stanley Cup winning team, and only 150 miles from Canada, and there is a vertiable dirth of support for pro hockey. Enjoy it while it lasts, my friends, because when it’s gone, you’ll never get it back!

  8. Just move the team to Cleveland. Columbus isn’t a hard working sports loving town, it’s more of a white collar, fend for yourself city. We will take the team off their hands and put them up in “The Q” gladly! CARRY THE FLAG!

    • Rich,

      Did you not read the article? The District generates $31 million/yr in additional revenue. How much do you think empty bars and closed restaurants standing next to an empty arena generate?

      Sure, the Jackets have yet to be competitive in the playoffs… but that does not mean that the games are not entertaining, that the District is not vital to the area, or that we should not keep the Jackets here.

      As far as being a “small market” town – we seem to pack 100,000 into the OSU football stadium for every game, surely we can support a professional hockey team.

  9. I am a fiscal conservative but I am a realist and I am a fiscal conservative that values growth. Too many conservatives especially those in Ohio now have no idea how to gain growth and that is indicated in a business unfreindly and failing state. In order to grow funding is imperative. Can you not see the 31 million a year in revenue that would be non exsistent without this venue? The jobs that are provided and the improvement of a once blighted area that now is business friendly and a financial draw for the city. Which in turns lines your pockets and actually keeps your individual tax burden down. Being a fiscal conservative is not an excuse to be ignorant. In fact it should lend you the intellgence to see the need for growth. The sad thing is this benefit has come to the City of Columbus without the citizens having any foresight what so ever and they have reaped the benefit. Now they can’t even support a very minimal contribution to its continued existence. Can we say tunnel vision and unfortunately for the city of Columbus growth killng. Just like all business in Ohio residents with no vision equals no growth. Soon we will all be hanging out the closed for business signs.

  10. I would like to point out that the Franklin County Commissioners are sitting on a $110 Million budget surplus from 4 or 5 years ago. They haven’t spent a dime of that money. They have borrowed against it to build a new baseball stadium, a new courthouse, a new $18 million animal shelter, and they’re building another hotel near the convention center. They have been able to do all of this without asking the taxpayers for anything additional.

    Franklin County Ohio, is not only the most financially stable government in Ohio but the entire Midwest. (Despite what they may claim in negotiations with their union employees). A big reason for this is because they receive the largest portion of the sales taxes generated in the county. So it stands to reason that the Franklin County Commissioners have the most to lose if the Jackets leave town. And they have the most to gain by purchasing the Arena (revenue/sales taxes/naming rights/etc).

    And they can do it all without a ballot initiative or a tax increase.

    So…I am suggesting that YOU, the voting residents of Franklin County, contact John O’Grady, Paula Brooks, and Marilyn Brown to let them know how you feel. Regardless of whether you are a hockey/baseball fan, enjoy the bars and restaraunts, or like the fact that Neil Ave & Nationwide Blvd is more than an old empty building….it just makes sense.

  11. I still don’t get the negative comments revolving around the hockey team. While they are a big part of the conversation, they aren’t the only part – its about the WHOLE district and the revenue it gets. Even if you never watch a single hockey team, if you live in Columbus you benefit from the revenue the whole district gets. Unfortunately, without the hockey, you’d end up with a huge empty hole in the area. People bring up the Flats in Cleveland and City Center, but I keep thinking of the Arena District without the Jackets like a mall without an anchor store – much like the Continent. How did that work out?

    Keeping the Jackets would be good for the city’s ego and revenue and benefit everyone. Losing the jackets would ensure that COlumbus would be second tier or lower, and never come close to getting another professional franchise. Plus, the loss of revenue would hurt the whole region. Seriously – times are tough, do you really want to strip $31 mil annually out of the budget?

  12. As the author of this series, I just wanted to chime in and say that I appreciate the debate. Too often, reactions to things like the Arena are based on emotional, uninformed reactions, and this is too important an issue for that kind of approach. The purpose was to inform, educate and provide perspective.

    In response to a few of the comments I have seen, please note that this is not about a “Blue Jackets” bailout. Hockey operations run about break even, all things considered. This is about how you manage a community asset — the Arena. As Part IV shows, we are the only City attempting to do it this way.

    I would encourage people to read all four parts of the series to get a full perspective of what happened and why. The Arena District model works — it is the arena ownership/operation piece that needs adjustment.

    Thanks for your comments and for reading the series.


    Thanks for all of your comments.

  13. Oh how sad, I have been to your arena and frequently tell about how impressed I was at your arena, the setting is wonderful, the building is incredible (the pride of our fans show in how the building is treated, so clean and taken care of). I have been to many NHL/OHL arena’s and yours is by far the most enjoyable. There is a huge London Knights connection in Columbus and proudly so, what a shame that some of your city members don’t get it. What a loss for your loyal fans, maybe someone should do something before it’s too late and the “big wigs” stamp a piece of paper saying too bad for the rest of you. Heartbreaking!

  14. I agree 100% with Victor Anthony. The team knew that public funds for an arena had been voted down several times. In order to get an arena built, they desperately made a deal with private corporations- a deal that turned out to be a stinker for the team. It was incredibly nearsighted of them to think this business model would work in the long term without any revenue from parking, naming rights, luxury boxes, etc. And I agree that they got themselves into this mess, they public shouldn’t be bailing them out, regardless of how well the surrounding Arena District is doing. Quite the savvy move by Nationwide… I think they signed a long-term lease (30 years?) so they can’t just up and move to another city.

    David, you got it backwards. Nationwide is not trying to get out of the arena deal, the team wants out, or to have their lease re-structured, or have the taxpayers buy the arena and give them free rent. I’m sure Nationwide is making good money on the district as a whole, but they bought the land and put in the investment. Nationwide has also given the team a reprive from paying rent recently (or so I am told.) This does make some sense, because if the team is struggling, then yes, their investment in the Arena also will struggle. But you can’t just ask for free rent, to give up naming rights, etc. Would it make sense for the privately-owned team to buy the arena from Nationwide, then sell the naming rights back to them, and at the same time earn revenue from non hockey events, while not paying rent to Nationwide? I don’t know, but they shouldn’t be asking the public to do this for them.

    • In response to a couple of points.
      Yes, you need to pay for talent, but the payroll is now on par with everyone else and in fact is higher than many teams. They made bad investments in
      “paying players” who are not worth it. Raffi Torres will soon haunt the BJ just as NOT paying Ray Whitney because he simply wanted a longer contract.
      Look at Commodore, Huselius, Pahlson, to mention a few. What we continue to get from the organization is smokescreens and “hope” they will get better. We allways talk about the draft and its huge success ? Other than Nash, a minus player by the way, who will long term help this team ?
      Hockey news just ran article on farm system condition and it sure wasnt
      I remember the worthless Rimer extolling Brule with his “Crosby like moves”
      and boy that Lasse Pirejeta was and up and coming steal. Alexendre Picard
      just going to be a very solid hockey player for years to come ! and one could go on. This organization continues to oversell it self and you cant do that forever. Even the YOTES and the Kings are ahead of Columbus, not to mention the diatribe locally against the Avalanche, still in the hunt.

      An organization who supports dissing outstanding players like Yzerman was
      Inginla, Ovechkin et al, need first to insure their team is worthy.

      Also hockey mom, you have the funds to do what you need to do, but dont talk down to those who are struggling in this economy.

  15. Being from Chicago and an Alumnus of both the University of Illinois and Northwestern, I have NEVER, EVER had any interesting in visting Columbus (big city hubris, I suppose). Nor have I ever had any interest in attending an event at OSU. As far as I was concerned, Cincinnati and Put-in-Bay were the only reasons to venture to Ohio.

    However, on Saturday Jan 16 2010, my buddy and I made a 5 hour drive to Columbus for the sole reason to see the Blue Jackets host the Blackhawks–again, only to see the Blue Jackets. [NOTE: Nationwide

    My intent was to watch the game in Columbus then head to Cincinnati/Covington KY for some ‘night life’ (I have been to Cincinnati many times to see the Reds and Bengals). Much to my surprise, I discovered a vibrant Arena district and the Short North (I think). My buddy and I were so impressed by the area we decided to skip Cincinnati and stay in Columbus for the evening as we discovered there is more to Columbus than we thought–particularly there is something besides OSU to Columbus.

    Further, I was so impressed with the Columbus, I have been back again for a weekend trip on Feb 4-6 for the opening of the new Battale Hall (I had a business contact get me on the list) and the Larry the Cable Guys comedy show. Now, my buddy and I are planing to go see the Blackhawks play the Blue Jackets on March 25 and will stay at least another day, if not 2.

    For a 40 year old man who has NEVER had any previous interest in Columbus, Ohio nor any interest in OSU, I have found Columbus to be a quite charming place–enough so, I will make my third trip in 3 months to willingly spend my hard earned money. If it weren’t for the Blue Jackets, the chances are slim to none that I would have ever experienced Columbus.

    To the folks of Columbus: You need to figure out how to keep the Blue Jackets a viable franchise. There are a lot of people from out of town who are spending a fair amount of money in your town because of the Blue Jackets (see the comments above from the Canadians). This is money that is creating jobs and increasing tax revenues to the people of Columbus.

  16. I have to admit I was one who said who cares about hockey but have been forced to change my opinion after taking my children to a CBJ game 9 yrs ago. The revenue generated goes well beyond the arena district. we are now PSL holders, a family of 4 we eat in the district prior to games we buy gas in Franklin county to get to the games my children play hockey we buy equipment @ local businesses. I don’t live in Columbus nor Franklin Co for that matter. You would be amazed of the number of families that bring their Children to Columbus to play hockey. During the winter we are there 5-7 nights/wk depending on games and practices. We live an hr out of Columbus so that means that we also eat 1-2 meals while there. My children attend various hockey camps and clinics in Columbus. We are only 1 family on 2 teams how many other families also spend the same or more.We have travel teams in Columbus which means over night stays I have often heard many moms love coming to Columbus because of the great shopping. The youth leagues generate a lot of revenue that will also be lost if we lose the Jackets. People don’t realize the great youth following the team has fostered. I have yet to meet a player that has not signed an autograph for my kids. I can speak for my family we will not visit the arena district if the Jackets are lost we won’t have a reason. I guess the positive side of leaving we will probably save a lot of money.

  17. Some people just crack me up with their comments. “The players should take a pay cut” followed by “They need to put a better product on the ice”. Well, the only way you’re going to put a better product on the ice is to get good players and good players don’t come cheap…they want to get paid. So which one do you want, naysayers?

    You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

    Losing the Jackets would be devastating to the city. People need to take the blinders off and see that if we lose the tax revenue from the Arena District, the gov’t will have to get that money from somewhere…and it’ll be the tax payers. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face, C-Bus!!!!

  18. I went to a weeknight Bluejackets game early in the year, when they looked like a contender – it wasn’t a sellout but it was close. I went to a Saturday night game a couple weeks before the Olympic break, long after any realistic shot at the playoffs had gone aglimmering, the place was maybe 1/3rd full – and the high priced seats closer to the ice were almost deserted.

    If the Bluejackets want to improve their cashflow, it’s simple JUST WIN, BABY. Perhaps selling the franchise to someone who has demonstrated a competence beyond the ability to inherent wealth might be a step in the right direction.

  19. One thing that no one ever seems to think about is the fact that EVERY hockey player is tadxed locally when they play at the Nat. That includes the visiting team as well. We are benefiting from all the high priced players. Hockey needs to stay otherwise the Arens Districts becomes another “Flats” like they HAD in Cleveland.

  20. I am an Indiana resident that drives 3 hours to Columbus for 1 reason – THE ARENA DISTRICT. I am a hockey fan and support the fact that the Nationwide Arena is pretty much a copy cat arena design of the Indianapolis Conseco Fieldhouse. Both locations have a team as a primary “unit” but have other events, like concerts, etc. that add to the amount of people in attendance. The disctrict is FANTASTIC as it is walkable from the many hotels around it, has bars and restaurants, the parks nearby and the farmers market. I choose to travel to Columbus instead of Chicago (which would be the same timing of drive) because of the District. If you loose the team,which means the building goes dark, the Disctrict will die as the “if you build it they will come” is the key here. Those that call that area home need to realize the OSU is for a few years of sellability to students, yet the arena and the district are long term. Don’t underestimate the yin/yang relationship and agree to make it important to your city. I NEVER visited Columbus until you had a hockey team and loved it and the District, if it was gone, I would not have an ease of a two in one vacation and would not be on a short list for weekend trips.

  21. Major League Sports is a “business”. Businesses sometimes profit and sometimes loose. I never complained amount the ticket prices of the CBJ games because I knew Nationwide was footing the bill and had the right to charge whatever they liked after the levy was defeated. Now that their decision is no longer profitable… I’m suppose to “bail them out?”

  22. The whole thing has to be re-worked and the public must get involved even though the majority may not be Hockey fans. The loss of this team would be absolutely devasting to the city from a financial standpoint and a prestige standpoint. We would be the largest city without a major sports team. Sorry, the cCrew doesn’t count and the economic loss if the Crew left would be minimal. The Arena district however, would become a ghost town fairly quickly as the Baseball team would not create the kind of draw that the Hocky team does. Sure, it is difficult right now given the success or, should I say the lack thereof, but that is just part of the dynamics and I think the synergy that area has with the convention center, the North Market, the baseball park, the Short North, and yes the Hockey Team, form a strong reason for people to come for entertainment and to live in that area. Without the Hockey team, the winter season would be a big hole from which the business in that area would not survive. We need a public option to solve the lease at the Arena so we can keep the Jackets here forever!

  23. I drive down from Detroit 1-3 times a year, more than I go to Joe Louis Arena.
    I have seen hockey in 7 NHL cites (Nashville will make 8 later this season).
    The only negative thing about Nationwide is the upper deck is high and steep, not good for little kids and those afraid of heights. That aside, Columbus has a world class facility , and the most fan friendly environment to boot.

    Talk to Bettman about helping. There are more fans in Columbus than Phoenix. And the Jackets performance is no worse than the Blackhawks of just five years ago, when you could walk up an hour before the game and get a premium seat in CHICAGO.

    The ironic part is, the Hawks turned around after “dollar” Bill Wirtz died, and Rocky took over. Does JM Jr. need Rocky’s cell #?

    And don’t think Mr. Wirtz or Mr. Illitch wouldn’t help. A more competiive Jackets franchise would help them in this era of revenue sharing (plus, a sub-par Columbus in town means tickets don’t sell out in Detroit, either).

    Don’t think that other franchises don’t hear how much fans like traveling to Columbus. Don’t think that Mike Illitch won’t learn from your experience when Detroit gets a new arena in a few years. Most of all, realize that winning every year is not possible. Being competitive most years is possible. Lord Stanley won’t come to Columbus in 2010, but the Jackets will help determine if certain teams (including Detroit) even make the postseason. I have trouble believing that players like Torres, Nash, or Steve Mason wouldn’t love to have the big game that knocked the Wings out of the playoffs for the first time in about 20 years. Sometimes you have to learn the spoiler role before you can become good. The Hawks and Ducks wore out the Wings last year, the Pens just finished off the walking wounded. This franchise can take a huge step on April 9th. I’ll be there. Will you?

    • The shortsighted people here drive me nuts! Never have been a osu supporter, and we had kids that never wanted to live here after they left for college. Now they are back, they are raising families in the area, they support all the different activities in the Columbus area, and especially the Arena District, they came back because there are things to do here now…Nationwide is responsible for that, and we can’t loose the 30million in tax revenue!!! What would Columbus be, like another person said, look at Toledo, Youngstown etc…

  24. First, I have no compassion for multi millionaires who now realize they are losing their shirt and want Joe Public to help them from losing money. They made a bad business decision and now want public money to bail them out. I WANT PUBLIC MONEY TO BAIL ME OUT. WHAT ABOUT THE SMALL BUSINESS OWNER THAT HAD TO CLOSE – WHERE’S THEIR MONEY. The taxpayers arent going to bail them out. They should have figured out a way to work with Ohio State years ago and build a sports complex that could have been the envy of the sporting WORLD!! Instead you have about $400 million of arena competing for the same dollar. And because the genius millionaires couldnt see this coming is unreal. Now I got to reach in my pocket and bail them out. Its call economics 101 If you have a bad business you go under. Regarding how it made tax revenues, where did it get siphoned from? The additional tax revenue didnt come out of thin air, it was tax revenue paid by consumers somewhere else. If it was new money, why is Columbus in such Red Ink. Regarding Nationwide real estate, they made out like a bandit, got free advertising rights, the increase in value of their real estate holdings. They are the ones that should buck up and pay. I could care less that other arenas operate the way they do. Looks like the Blue Jackets owners got schooled in how to start a hockey team. Best idea I have seen is to sell them and put in a Minor League Team

  25. The bottom line is this needs to be settled.
    If Columbus loses the Blue Jackets…they will NEVER get another team.. This was our one chance to prove we can support a major league team.. For those people that say let the Blue Jackets leave…they are nuts they will never get another major league type franchise…will be a minor league city

  26. I am a season ticket and PSL holder. We are in a small market, allways will be, dont have a tv contract, all OSU all the time, and residuals from marketing the logo via merchandise etc is……………. crap. The team has not produced, the rhetoric from the club and its employees and announcers et al is that everything is good and we are just around the corner from turning it around ! They are deep discounting tickets, the treatment of season ticket holders is pathetic. Now they want renewals for next season by March 31 or you lose your seat license investment. Season will not even be finished. The club and its game “presentation” group consistently mock the opposition while the results of the club are pathetic. Not a bad idea to move to Hamilton. and we could
    pick up the AHL club, not really much of a difference from what we have.
    Also they could save some money by getting rid of the $1.00 surcharge to
    Col. Public Schools, they certainly do a great job, and apply that to the deficit.

    Attendence would be even worse without all the opposing teams fans coming in to watch their team play.

    As much I would miss hockey here, the drive to Buffalo, Det, Pittsburg, Nashville, Toronto, Chicago is not that bad to make up for it.

  27. When it comes to decisions from our mayor and city council, they are not the sharpest tools in the shed. Their decision to tear down the City Center (even though it should not have been built in the first place) was a huge mistake. That land will now be a park in the middle of the city instead of a facility that could generate revenue for the city. They did not even try to sell or recycle all the marble, granite, brass etc. from the mall. They just dumped it in a land fill. Now they will figure out a way to make taxpayers pay for an arena. I’m tired of sports owners that want to make money at taxpayers expense without any financial investment in the building they play in. I want to run a restaurant and make money off it and have taxpayers pay for the building. I will pay my taxes but do not want to have any rent. How great would that be?

  28. I’m a Columbus resident. This is not a hockey town, the Blue Jackets are terrible, and the public has spoken. If the Jackets can’t make it on their own, they are free to leave or dissolve. While I thank John McConnell for revitalizing the area, that was his choice, and the choice of those who chose to get in bed with an NHL franchise/Arena in an area where no one cares about hockey. They knew the risks going into this, and I’m truly sorry that the team is suffering as it is, but the residents of Columbus are done with it and have no interest in financially propping up this team. Put it to a vote and I’m sure it will be a repeat of 1997. Currently, city council and the mayor are trying to find a way to subsidize it without letting the residents vote… because they know we don’t want it!

  29. I’ve been a huge jacket fan from the get go. Yeah I was against another tax to build the arena but now I regret that decision. That 31 million a year in revenue is no small amount and if it stays on track can we afford to let 60 million a year not come to columbus? I’ve been a columbus person for 37 years and love what I see in the arena district. It gives this town a world class attraction and a reason to come here.We need the arena and the Bluejackets and it would be shameful to let that get away from us. We really would be a cow town to let that happen. We need to find a solution that works. There are thousands of jobs in the arena district that truly need the Blueackets to be our team. Too bad there aren’t more of those buckeye fans who appreciate hockey to see the light.,don’t get me wrong I love the buckeyes but if the Bluejackets had the suppor that the OSU buckeyes have we wouldn’t be in this situation.

  30. Columbus voters already voted and said they did not want to fund the arena. It is not the voters fault that Jacket ownership has poorly managed their funds and player salaries. The money the team owes to Nationwide to play in the arena is no secret amount they just found out about. Ownership needs to manage their funds better and realize there is no bail out here from taxpayers. If they put a team that competes on the ice then maybe they could manage their money better. If they can’t get the basics down with a budget here then they will have a difficult time operating anywhere they go.

  31. Excellent report. We central Ohioans do support the Jackets and our community. It is time for the Columbus and OSU to partner with the CBJ and work out a solution. For those posters who disagree with supporting the Jackets – did you read $31M in tax revenues? Seriously?! Get a clue and go watch NASCAR or MMA and stop posting…

  32. Blue Jackets have been an epic failure from day 1 – only made the playoffs once and have never won a playoff game. This city does not deserve the Jackets if they are not willing to support them (12,000 for some games). Maybe if they werent losing so much money you could actually have a good team… Anyways, the Blue Jackets should move to the Greater Toronto Area (Hamilton) and you guys can welcome the AHL (Hamilton Bulldogs / Columbus Bluedogs) for 44 games a year. It will still provide you with hockey, (and maybe you could see a winning team) ,some traffic to the arena, and a few tax dollars to keep the restaurants in business in the summer. Would anybody support the AHL? Does it really matter to you NCAA nuts?

    • This is an excellent article about the “uniqueness” of the Columbus Arena District, CBJ, et al. The one point that many people miss or dismiss is that in Columbus, Ohio, THE Ohio State University rules. The Bluejackets are second fiddle in all matchups. Competing dollars will always will favor OSU. Added, there are two major venue arenas in Columbus, again both competing for the concert goer, bull rider, or monster truck events. McConnell knew this going in , his goal was noble, was entrepreneurial and great for Columbus and HIS INVESTMENT. BUT, the CBJ owners and management alike have made huge errors in the developmental stages of the team and at the same time whined greatly about their “lease” losses to the public forefront. I am sure Mr. Mac is rolling over thinking his organization is in line for a public subsidy. If they want a public subsidy, the public should share in the ownership….period. All are winners, not whiners, and when the team ultimately moves to Ontario and is sold to a Canadian group, the public will benefit in the overall sale proceeds. Very similiar to the preferred stock the US government got in the bailout there. I do not see the owners group coming up with any capital calls, but they will benefit the most if this team is sold or moved. This would be a tragedy for Nationwide, Columbus, the Arena District and the fans. Nationwide has been the greatest beneficiary from the mere real estate sales. There is also another complicated side and that is the ridiculous trades made by McLean/Howson over the years that have been cost cutting/team destruction/fan morale destroying that has not enhanced the franchise or the fan base. It is imprudent to now ask the public to make up for those poor decisions; perhaps Nationwide should renegotiate a better lease?

  33. It’s a shame that OSU and the City couldn’t work out an arrangement where one arena could house both OSU sports and the CBJ. You can’t make the “it’s for the students” that the Schott was built – the distance from 15th and High to either the Schott or Nationwide Arena is about the same.

    Check out Lexington KY. Same kind of situation – large university with a highly regarded basketball program situated a few miles from downtown. When UK decided to replace the tiny on-campus Alumni Gym, they worked with the city to build a new arena in a depressed area in the downtown. The result is that Rupp arena has two major tenants, and the neighboring businesses get even more revenue.

    By the way, how many merchants are profiting from pre/post game business in the Schott’s neighborhood?

    I understand that this idea was pitched to OSU, and they rejected it. Hard to believe someone as powerful as John McConnell couldn’t make it happen.

  34. I am a PSL holder and a resident of the Arena District.
    If Nationwide and the Dispatch (they also own 10%) wants out of the Arena then let’s look at options. My issue is I’m guessing both entities make a few good return from rents (or sales from Condos) from the other parts of the district where rents are higher than other parts of the city. Don’t let Nationwide and Dispatch keep the profitable part and then ask the taxpayers to take on the unprofitable part (the Arena itself). If they want to lose the Arena lease then give up part of the ownership of the real estate in the District. Virtually all of the land around the Arena is owned by Nationwide and the Dispatch. From the bars, to the offices, to the apartments, to the condos. All of it is highly valued property.
    My guess is if the County approaches Nationwide/Dispatch and says “sure” we’ll take on the Arena but we also want 40% of the ownership of the land around it, that a few pencils may be sharpened on the lease.
    Bottom line is no one wants this to fail, but if the taxpayers are needed to step in they should take over some of the profitable assets as well, don’t just take on the part of the arena that is losing money.

  35. Derrick, where does your wife shop in the arena district? I do not know of a single retail store that has opened up around the arena. All of the storefronts are filled with bars and restaurants only. Retailers cannot sustain themselves off of event traffic for 40plus home hockey games and very few residents in the arena disrict. Even the other events that occur in the arena coupled with a multitude of baseball games at clippers stadium has not brought retailers to the area. If the City and the residents of Columbus want to explore options for saving the arena and not burdening the tax payers, then they ought to consider tax increment financing that Nationwide has used to help with the costs of building the Arena District infrastructure whcih makes up part of the $31million in revenue, and use it for paying the lease on the Arena. I doubt that Nationwide wants to give up any of that money to go to the operating expenses for the Arena and the City would have to change it’s legislation on the use of TIF dollars. the real benafactor in this deal is Nationwide. They have used the Arena to market and sell the Arena district for many new buildings and uses, all the while they have been paid for the arena through their lease with the team. do we forget about the fact that Nationwide requested a reduction in the value of the arena to lower their property tax basis that they pay each year. I believe that all of the parties, Nationwide, City of Columbus and the team need to step up and make the needed consessions to keep the team in Columbus. It will never be successful if only one of the parties steps up! I do not support raising taxes in this economy for the benifit of the Arena district. What do you think Columbus?

    • As far as my wife shopping, I would refer to the whole of Downtown Columbus, Short North, German village, et al. and not just the Arena District.

      Again, having the choice of staying in Ohio or moving East, having a vibrant downtown was important for BOTH of us. Without the Arena district, without Nationwide Arena, and without the Jackets, there was very little draw for us to move to Central Ohio.

      While I don’t disagree with your stance on Nationwide being a major part of why the Jackets aren’t profitable, you simply cannot understate the effect have the Arena does for Columbus’ reputation and drawing power.

      I’m not from OH and I don’t support anything Buckeye related because I don’t care. Now, because I’m a hockey fan/coach, I go to downtown for games and shows and events. Because of the downtown area, my wife can park in one place, and spend time walking around and discovering all the things Columbus has.

      Even if we’d stayed in Central OH, w/o the Jackets, what’s to keep us going downtown when we could easily stay close to home and shop at Easton or at Polaris? Instead, we can visit Downtown because we like the area and have discovered what that has to offer. Without the above mentioned, there would be no reason for us to drive 15 minutes South when we could simply go 15 minutes North.

  36. A group of us from Canada come down to Columbus yearly for the Easyrider Motorcyle Show.

    Our weekend, over the years, has turned into a Hockey weekend. Last month, we stayed long enough to watch two hockey games (Vancouver and Chicago).

    The arena is a fabulous facility and the area around the arena is the place to be in the evening. We spent our evenings in various restaurants and bars in the area and visited the market for lunch.

    Without the arena district, there would be no reason to stay downtown.

    OH, and we stayed at a major hotel in the arena district as well, used taxis etc..

    Quite a bit of money, over the years, has been left in Colubmus.

    And yes, we intend to come back.

    Bottom line, something does need to be done to ensure the continued success of the Team and the Arena District.

  37. As a former resident of Columbus, left before the CBJ moved to town and now a resident of Raleigh, moved here right after the ‘Canes relocated, I can tell you that your Arena District is FAR better than our RBC Center. WHY? Because you can spend a whole day before the game visiting the establishments and only park ONCE. Our arena, because it was built BY, FOR and because of NCSU is in the middle of nowhere. It is worse than building the Schott Center on campus. There is only ONE restaurant within walking distance, two if you count the Wendy’s. One hotel and that is it. There are some apt buildings and office buildings but no vibrant commercial enterprises. The development has been slowed due to the economy and the shall I be nice and say, imagination of such developers. Columbus residents got what they wanted.. tax revenue from the district without having to pony up the costs. Something for nothing!! I was in Columbus for the NHL Draft and it was wonderful. My sister lives in Columbus and is always in the Arena District for some reason or another and NOT hockey. AND anything going on at the Convention Center can piggy back onto the Arena Events. Congrats to Columbus for that, BUT support your Blue Jackets. You may complain about player salaries, but how many expensive houses have these player bought, spend money in your area during the season, bring $$ to town. We get the same small mindedness here in Raleigh from Non-hockey fans.

  38. Nationwide should make some concession on the lease agreement. After all, it was their then CEO who pushed for the acquisition of an NHL team so that Nationwide could develop their end of downtown Columbus – an economically depressed part of town and an eyesore surrounding their headquarters. As a result, Nationwide Realty Investors has reaped the benefits of the redevelopment boom of that area and, with tax breaks and financings for other NRI projects. Nationwide, be a good corporate citizen and give the Blue Jackets organization a break until some public/private financial agreement can be set. Blue Jackets, win some games so we have a reason to keep you. You both need to work harder.

  39. The problem is that the Columbus electorate cannot look at the Arena (and Jackets franchise) as a completely independent entity any longer. As opposed to Guy’s comments….it’s not just a question as to whether or not the Jackets themselves generate a profit….you have to factor in the economic viability of the Arena District as a whole. The reality is that without the 44 home hockey games during the winter, the businesses in the District would not be generating this fantastic $33M in additional tax revenue that we enjoy. Additionally, this is one of the major draws for people considering Columbus as a viable place to live/work. I know that it’s a huge selling point for the city when most people consider Ohio as a huge drain that is continually losing intellectual capital. The Arena District and the Short North are probably the only economically functional entertainment districts in the entire state of Ohio…I really don’t think we want to lose these gems…unless the people of Columbus would like to follow the examples of Toledo, Dayton, and Youngstown in terms of attracting new citizens/city growth.

    • Brad, are you forgetting about venues in places like Cincinnati and Cleveland where they have both seperate facilities for Football, Baseball and indoor arena for basketball. i guess those are not successful, only nationwide Arena and the Short North is successful. what about an entertainment development like Easton which sees over 20 million visitors each year for retail, bars, restaurants, movies, comedy club and shadowbox. that must be a real loser as well. Columbus is the only City in Ohio that has sustained a growth in population of the major cities in the State, I do not believe that is because of the Short North and the Arena District. It may have something to do with job oppurtunities and the many corporations that are located here.

  40. As someone that has lived in and around Columbus my whole life, I remember the “old pen” and all of the pipe dreams that were proposed for that location. Ask yourself, before 2000, did you EVER go downtown for anything besides work? Maybe City Center (that worked out well), maybe? Who lived downtown before 2000? Can’t anyone see that by getting rid of that eye sore, that it has brought some life back to the city center (not the mall) like everyone asked for? THIS IS NOT JUST ABOUT HOCKEY! Your tax dollars are paying for miles and miles of parks along the scioto river (how much tax dollars do those fancy curbs and fountains bring in?), maybe we could renam Nationwide Arena “Nationwide Park” and the people of Columbus would be ok with pitching in a dollar or two? If it wasn’t for Mr. McConnell and Mr. McPherson looking forward, we would still be saying “what if.” That’s just my 2 cents worth.

  41. My brother and I make a trip up to Columbus from Cincinnati a few times a year. One trip for the Arnold (I learned of the Arnold while in Columbus for a Blue Jacket’s game) and a few more for Blue Jacket games. It’s great to be able to arrive early, park on site, get some dinner and hang out before the game without having to walk several city blocks. It is something we look forward to every year. All of our experiences have been outstanding and made possible by the friendly people of Columbus and the Arena District. Without the Blue Jackets, I would have very little reason to spend any time/ money in Columbus.

  42. It is very obvious what acitivites create within the area and resulting expenditures by those wanting to be in a vibrant area or attend a function.. without the major draw of 44 hockey games the area and the revenue generATED WILL SHRIN K SIGNIFICANTLY. I have heard Buckeye pride and the attitide of columbus and Ohio being so great but losing a profressional franchise would be a devastating blow. I know Buckeye fans do not want to accept/consider being second tier but it is obvious without concessions to make a workable public owned arena and team lease Columbus will be nothing but a second tier city.

  43. I’m a big hockey fan, but I’m also a fiscal conservative. From day one, the voters have made their voices heard loud and clear … if hockey can’t support itself in Columbus, we don’t need it, and we don’t want it. Period. Nothing has changed since then. In fact, we are less capable of providing taxpayer assistance now than we were then, or has nobody noticed the economy we’re dealing with?

    Hockey is a business, and subsidizing it with taxpayer money is simply wrong. First of all, WHO gets to decide which businesses get taxpayer subsidies? I own a small business … when do I get MY subsidies? Yes, we’ve built a house of cards around the team, and losing it would be a tough pill to swallow, but somebody should have taken that into consideration before they invested millions of dollars in what apprears now to be a questionable venture. Why reward poor business decisions with a bailout? We’ve seen enough of THAT lately. Asking the taxpayers to subsidize private business is simply wrong. It borders on Socialism, and it opens the door for corruption on so many levels.

    When the taxpayers refused to finance this team, business owners stepped right up to the plate and came up with the necessary money. Why? Because they saw a potential for PROFIT. It was NOT because they wanted the citizens of Columbus to have a hockey team out of the goodness of their hearts. So, are we to believe that suddenly, they can’t turn a profit? Perhaps they should have been more conservative with the facility, or negotiated better terms, but the bottom line is this …. they made a business decision, and if it was wrong, it’s their problem, not the taxpayers’ problem. I know my position on this won’t be a popular one, but I call them the way I see them ….

    If it can’t stand the

    • Be careful what you wish for.
      If the team goes the arena becomes a very large vacant building surrounded by bars and with no patrons because there is no need to stop in before or after a game. The tax revenues that you currently enjoy dry and and your taxes are forced to be increased to cover the losses. The economy is down everywhere so stop crying, the entire country faces the same thing. Spitting on a good thing will cost you more.

    • Guy – you make a really good case for your perspective and, although I DO support public participation in helping a city have sports teams, I must say that unlike other naysayers you did a really good job making a very valid point. How about a compromise? Cap the participation of government (I don’t know if that’s city, county or state – perhaps somebody knowledgeable can clarify that) to the amount of tax revenue generated by the arena and arena district? Seems to me that this would still satisfy the original will of the voters, right?

  44. How much would the $10 million in annual player salaries have to be reduced for the team to break even??

    Why should I reduce my disposable income (via increased taxes) to subsidize a team that only a relatively small number of people support — and even fewer can afford to attend the games.

    Columbus voted down public subsidies of an arena several times in the past. If a public subsidies are to be seriously considered, it should be voted on again.

    • Rich, I hope you had a chance to read the responses from many others since you entered your negative comments. The amount of “disposable income” that you, me or anyone else affected by a public initiative to fix the Arena districe issue is miniscule compared to the benefits to our town. I dont know if you have been to the Arena District in the past few years, or for that matter to a CBJ game. I dont think you could have, or you would have seen the fantasic job done in the entire area, including the new Clippers field. Having also come here from the East Coast over 20 years ago, my wife and I were hoping and praying for Columbus to “Wake Up” from it’s previous rut. When we came here in ’89 the newest thing on the block was City Center – great while it lasted, but now gone. Is this what you want to see happen at Nationwide and Front Street too? Please Columbus residents – we all love the Buckeyes, but OSU is not enough to save our town.

  45. To Columbus residents…I hope you appreciate what you have there, apparently in spite of yourselves. The Jackets and the Arena District are the ONLY reason I decided to visit Columbus in 2000…and I’ve returned no less than a dozen times and spent several thousand dollars. It’s a three-hour drive from where I live…Windsor, Ont. and my house is literally 10 minutes from downtown Detroit. Had it not been for this beautiful facility and an NHL franchise I would never have seen German Village, or COSI etc.. Pity that nobody can seem to understand the benefits of having such world-class facilities.

    • I agree with Richard…there are many things to do and see in Columbus; sure it isn’t ALL hockey, but Hockey puts icing on the proverbial cake…keep working on opportunities for funding and keep the Blue Jackets franchies!

    • Richard: I am very happy to hear of people traveling from outside Columbus. I’ve lived in Ohio my whole life and in Columbus for over two years now (although I drove 2 hours from my home town to visit everything in Columbus almost on a weekend to weekend basis before moving). I agree with your comment. Although many people here do love our Jackets and our city, they just don’t see into the future. People rejected financing the arena before it was built because they did not see they benefits into the future, just like they don’t see that if the Jackets leave and the Arena closes there will be nothing in the Arena District. The Clippers can’t make up for what the Jackets bring to the area and with Ohio State not in this area they couldn’t either. Bottom line, we need our Jackets and we LOVE our Jackets!

  46. Jason: Even if the money came in from the bars/patios as you say, there would be NO bars/patios to go to during the summer if the Arena wasn’t there. Nor would there be concerts/shows/other tours stopping into Columbus with any frequency. And don’t say OSU… because a college facility is going to be used for college activities before trying to bring in outside booking.

    Columbus would be the largest college town in America without the Arena District. The Clippers wouldn’t have their gorgeous new park; there’d be no Crew. You’d have OSU and what else? And that’s just the sports aspect. So basically Columbus would be a very large Toledo without the District and the businesses that draw people downtown.

    As an East Coaster who willingly made the choice to move to Columbus instead of back East, I can tell you the Blue Jackets, the Arena District and all that it entails were reasons why my wife and I decided to move here. And the “bars/patios” get not ONE DIME of our money.

    I go for hockey, my wife goes to shows, and we love the shopping and the restaurants. Considering that Ohio is losing people from the state in droves, the Jackets and the District are reasons for people not only to stay in Columbus, but to actually MOVE to Columbus and into Ohio, in general.

    If you want a city to not only survive, but thrive, you need people. People generate revenue. The more people you have, the more potential for revenue there is. Any business person will tell you that.

  47. Jason: Even if the money came in from the bars/patios as you say, there would be NO bars/patios to go to during the summer if the Arena wasn’t there. Nor would there be concerts/shows/other tours stopping into Columbus with any frequency.

    Columbus would have the largest college town in America without the Arena District. The Clippers wouldn’t have their gorgeous new park; there’d be no Crew. You’d have OSU and what else? And that’s just the sports aspect. So basically Columbus would be a very large Toledo.

    As an East Coaster who willingly made the choice to move to Columbus instead of back East, I can tell you the Blue Jackets, the Arena District and all that it entails were reasons why my wife and I decided to move. The “bars/patios” get not ONE DIME of our money.

    I go for hockey, my wife goes to shows, and we love the shopping and the restaurants. As Ohio is losing people from the state in droves, the Jackets and the District are reasons for people not only to stay in Columbus, but to actually MOVE to Columbus.

    You need people if you wish to have revenue. Any busy person will tell you that.

  48. Lets see a month-by-month breakdown of the revenue. Hockey has very little to do with the $31 million. The money is made during the summer time at the bars/patios.

    • I have the solution to your problem:
      1. Sell the Jackets to Nationwide.
      2. Relocate the Jackets.

      The Penguins did so can the Jackets..The Penguins threatened to move and the city new how much fan support was for them. The city would of sold their soul to keep the Penguins. If this Pens would of tried this in the 70’s or 80’s, they would playing in Kansas City now.

      • Voters chose Not to support this venue before it was built, lucky for them someone else picked up the ball or there would be NO bars, just an abandoned jail.

        Comparing the Jackets to the Pens is not a good comparison. Big difference, Pens sell out, Jackets tickets are usually available at the ticket window game day. We drive from 3 hours to Columbus to go the game, NOT the bars. Tickets are too easy to come by. Hockey is Not King in Ohio. Should the buckeyes threaten to move, you have a case.

    • Jason – go back and read the articles about how those businesses fared during the NHL strike season. Most restaurants indicated that they would have had to close for good had Nationwide Realty not forgiven/delayed the required rent payments from those businesses. Hockey in the district does matter, and is the cornerstone of everything that happens there. Huntington Park fortunately now provides some diversification, but hockey is still required for the area.

      Guy: Sorry, your small business is not the same. A pro team and arena generate recognition and awareness for Columbus by those outside our city, as well as community pride. These things are important to the continued vibrancy of a city. More concretely, there is just no debate that millions of dollars enter our city as a result of these assets, and if some public money is needed to maintain their vibrancy and existence, so be it – it makes sound financial sense given the benefits. These benefits start with conventions, by the way. The incredibly competitive convention business is one of the single most effective drivers of economic value for a city (in part because it brings in dollars from outside our city). Every competitive advantage we can show brings in more conventions (and million$), and hockey, baseball, restaurants, and the arena space itself are all huge assets in this world. BTW, it’s also the reason the casino should be built within walking distance of the convention center.
      We had our chance to do this right in 1997 with a half-penny sales tax for 3 years, much of which is paid by visitors to the city, but the short-sighted arena opponents blew that for us. The flexibility that would have provided would put us in an entirely different position now.
      And finally, the economic benefits are spread across the city – it is irrelevant whether you like or attend hockey games, or not.

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