The Columbus City Council yesterday "shot down" a proposal that would have "ended Columbus’ payments to purchase Nationwide Arena," according to Lucas Sullivan of the COLUMBUS DISPATCH. In addition, council members "want elections officials to keep the issue off the May ballot." Under the proposal submitted by the Columbus Coalition for Responsive Government, voters would "be asked to end the city’s purchase contract of the arena as of Jan. 1, 2016." If the ballot issue "were approved, payments could resume only if voters approved them in a second election." Franklin County, Ohio State Univ., the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority and the state "also were part of the purchase." Their roles "are not subject to a potential vote." City Attorney Richard Pfeiffer Jr. yesterday said that the proposal "is invalid because voters cannot overturn the contract, which is to purchase the arena and operate it through 2039." The city and Franklin County in '11 agreed to spend an estimated $250M in "casino tax revenue to purchase, operate and maintain the arena through 2039." Blue Jackets Owner John McConnell "supported the public purchase because the team was losing money, in part because its lease did not provide the team with revenue that other teams get from their home arenas" (COLUMBUS DISPATCH, 1/7).
Lansdowne Park is "expected to be renamed TD Place when it reopens" in '14 after the Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group "reached an agreement on naming rights for the entire facility" with Toronto-based TD Bank Group, according to Don Campbell of the OTTAWA CITIZEN. The agreement, "said to be in seven figures" annually, would also also "allow for a full service TD banking centre at Lansdowne." The refurbished stadium/arena combination will be home to the expansion CFL RedBlacks, the OHL 67's and the NASL Fury FC. The deal "re-establishes a major Canadian bank as the marquee sponsor of a sports complex" in Ottawa after "a one-year hiatus." The Senators last summer "opted out of their contract with Scotiabank," which held the naming rights at the team's arena prior to this season. The new Lansdowne agreement "also allows the Bank of Montreal to establish a smaller banking centre on the grounds" (OTTAWA CITIZEN, 1/7). In Ottawa, Tim Baines writes of the deal, "It's another big bank making a splash on the local sports scene" (OTTAWA SUN, 1/7). TD Bank also holds naming rights to TD Garden in Boston, home to the Celtics and Bruins (THE DAILY).
Sabres Owner Terry Pegula is currently "creating a one-of-a-kind Hockey Academy" while building the HARBORCenter in Buffalo, and the project to build both is "as much about trying to rebrand a city as it is about sticks, pucks, and thinking outside the rink," according to Kevin Paul Dupont of the BOSTON GLOBE. The Hockey Academy Dir and former NHLer Kevyn Adams said, "Our goal with the Hockey Academy is really to become the development destination for hockey players. ... We want to become the development destination for players and coaches around the world." The "precise theme and shape of the Hockey Academy is, much like the construction project, a work in progress," but it "will open for business full time in 18 months." The entire package is "being built on a parcel of land of less than two acres and will include a five-level parking garage, a sprawling sports-themed restaurant, and myriad other retail shops." The HARBORCenter "with its retail stores and wholesale dreams could be a sizable step forward in gathering up Buffalo’s tired bones." Buffalo "wants to be cool again," and the Pegulas "have the greenbacks and the Zambonis to provide the finish." HARBORCenter President John Koelmel said, "Destination, development, impact. It will be a tremendous facility. It changes the landscape around here. Unfortunately, this (part of the city) has evolved as more of a dead zone, so this is the foundation for what has been an evolving transformation." HARBORCenter "is a start, one with substantial pace, with vision, with promise." The Pegulas' "love of and dedication to hockey cannot be questioned." The Pegulas with the Sabres, the Hockey Academy and the $200M HARBORCenter have "another thick layer of skin in the game." It is "really more than anyone could ask, which is something Buffalo hasn’t said for a very long time" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/5).