Public purchase of Nationwide Arena keeps Blue Jackets in Columbus until 2039
The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority closed on its purchase of Nationwide Arena yesterday in a transaction that’s expected to save the Blue Jackets $9.5 million a season and, more importantly, keep it from relocating until at least 2039.
That’s the plan anyway. (More on that later.)
The $42.5 million purchase of the downtown arena from Nationwide Realty Investors will be financed with county and city casino revenue (proving once again that gambling can solve everything).
It’s a good deal for the money-losing club, which was able to finagle a rent-free lease by doing what every savvy pro sports franchise does when times get tough – threatening to move.
Writes the Post: “City and county officials have said that their decision to buy the arena wasn’t about hockey; it was about protecting the Arena District that sprang up around Nationwide Arena after it opened in 2000. What was an empty landscape dominated by a closed, decaying prison is now home to apartments, condominiums, restaurants and offices. Nearly 10,000 people work there.”
Now, it’s worth noting that there’s a way for the Jackets to skip town before 2039 -- they just have pay $39 million in damages. And while $39 million isn’t peanuts, if Columbus keeps hemorrhaging money, it might become a price worth paying to move to a more profitable market.
But let’s not worry about that now. Today is a good day for Columbus hockey fans, and those have been few and far between this season.
To celebrate the big news, the Jackets have signed goaltender Steve Mason to a 10-year, $50-million extension.