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Public purchase of Nationwide Arena keeps Blue Jackets in Columbus until 2039

Mar 29, 2012, 6:41 PM EDT

Nationwide Arena

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.

  1. tbcrow - Mar 29, 2012 at 7:10 PM

    Hockey Politics Aside

    This is a solid move by a community maintaining a jobs market. You cannot fault a smart business move, and 10,000 jobs is anything but chump change.

    Also, with the way this league works, in two years we might all be blinking in utter confusion at Stanley Cup Champs Columbus Blue Jackets, you just never know.

    • billlaforge22 - Mar 29, 2012 at 7:47 PM

      Don’t forget Scott Howson, general manager of the year.

    • east96st - Mar 30, 2012 at 1:08 AM

      1) The Arena is in NO way, shape, or form responsible for 10,000 jobs. It was a blighted area and now it’s not. A nice shopping mall built where the jail was would have accomplished the same thing. 2) This was a puff piece published the lone city paper which is – drumroll, please – partial owner of the Jackets. So, yeah, they think it’s a great deal. They got paid. 3) This was NOT a move by the community. This was casino revenue essentially stolen from the taxpayers in a backroom deal that the public had no say in and I’m sure would have been voted down if Columbus residents were given the chance 4) The brain trust that built the “amazing” Jackets team you see today is in charge of re-building this disaster. Want to revise your prediction about the Lord Stanley visiting Columbus in two years?

  2. ikillchicken - Mar 29, 2012 at 7:57 PM

    “To celebrate the big news, the Jackets have signed goaltender Steve Mason to a 10-year, $50-million extension.”

    This is a joke right? I really hope it’s a joke.

  3. gbiscottagecheesefatties - Mar 29, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    that’s it. $42.5 mill.

    seems like a good deal to me

  4. spokedjackets - Mar 29, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    After I win Mega Millions tomorrow Ill buy Arena for that price.

  5. zach28 - Mar 29, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    well on the bright side, they’ll have to be good at some point in columbus….

    • eastcoastcynic - Mar 30, 2012 at 12:10 AM

      “well on the bright side, they’ll have to be good at some point in columbus….”

      Sounds like they’re off the hook until 2040.

  6. bensawesomeness - Mar 29, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    All they have to do is look north to Detroit and the Lions – They’ve won one playoff game in 40 years, but they’re finally drafting right and finally getting the right people in the front office, hopefully to make a deep run in the playoffs within the next few years

    So…ya know…there’s hope…

    • east96st - Mar 30, 2012 at 12:54 AM

      When did the Lions turn it around? When they realized Millen was poison. Our owner has expressed full confidence in our “Millens” (we have more than one – including our owner!) and claims it’s all the fault of the guys on the ice. Choosing to completely ignore who actually drafted, traded, and signed those guys on the ice. So…ya know…we have no hope…

      • michiganhockey11 - Mar 30, 2012 at 10:26 AM

        Actually, it was Bill Ford Jr. that publicly said he woudl have gotten rid of MM if he had the control that Sr. did.

  7. bhawkce - Mar 29, 2012 at 10:22 PM

    If the team starts winning the fans will be there..c-bus still gets pretty good attendance, poor record not withstanding. Of course, some of those games the opposing team has more fans there than the jackets ..

  8. iamanidiotfan - Mar 30, 2012 at 2:21 AM

    If you’re going to win games in the NHL, you need goaltending. They should trade for Luongo. He plays great in non-pressure situations. He’d be a star in Columbus. :)

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