Columbus City Council Looking To Keep City's Nationwide Arena Purchase Off Ballot
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).