SBD/February 2, 2011/Franchises

Blue Jackets See Little Progress On Resolving Financial Woes

The Blue Jackets currently pay $5M a year in rent to play at Nationwide Arena
Officials from a Blue Jackets supporters group formed last year to "find a solution to the team’s financial problems" said that there is "nothing new to report on their progress," according to Jeff Bell of BUSINESS FIRST OF COLUMBUS. Forward Together officials said that "various scenarios, including a public buyout" of the privately owned Nationwide Arena, "have been discussed since spring 2009 by the key players in the game -- the Blue Jackets, arena owner Nationwide Insurance and officials with the city and Franklin County." But a source said that “nothing is likely to happen until the city and Penn National Gaming Inc. resolve their dispute over financial incentives the company is seeking in exchange for agreeing to annex its Franklin Township casino site into Columbus.” An accord “could open the door to using casino tax revenue that would go to Columbus and the county to help fund a public purchase of the 18,000-seat Nationwide Arena, possibly through the county Convention Facilities Authority.” Such a deal could result in “friendlier arena lease terms for the Blue Jackets, which pay $5 million a year in rent and don’t get revenue from parking or arena naming rights.” Nationwide spokesperson Eric Hardgrove said that the company “remains committed to working with the Blue Jackets and local officials to provide a sustainable business model to keep the team in Columbus.” Greater Columbus Sports Commission Exec Dir Linda Logan “thinks community officials are committed to addressing the arena issue and keeping the Blue Jackets” in the city. But Bell notes it appears the “impasse may imperil the Blue Jackets’ bid to host the 2013 NHL All-Star Game, an event long coveted by the team.” Logan said that the NHL has been “waiting for Columbus officials to resolve the arena issue before deciding” where to award the '13 All-Star Game (BUSINESS FIRST OF COLUMBUS, 1/28 issue).
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