Blue Jackets Saga Getting Progressively Sillier

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Buddy, can you spare $80-million?

That’s the amount of money the Columbus Blue Jackets have lost in the last seven years. Now, they’re looking for Franklin County, where the Jackets reside in Ohio, to purchase Nationwide Arena in a bid to renegotiate their lease and to pass a “sin tax” without voter approval. Complete details can be gleamed from this Columbus Dispatch article.

It seems that all of these years, the Jackets have been operating in the red due to restrictions that developed as the nine year-old arena was being built. In May of 1997, voters turned down a short-term tax increase of .05 cents to help build an arena for the new team. However, then prospective franchise owner, the late John H. McConnell, promised NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that there would be a new arena for a team. Nationwide Insurance announced that they would pony up the $150-million to build the arena. But the tag came with a price of its own:

  • Nationwide Insurance, as owners of the arena, have naming rights.
  • Since Nationwide owes a great deal of the real estate around the Columbus Arena District, the Blue Jackets get little revenue from parking.
  • To help offset costs for construction, 15 of the arena’s 52 luxury suites were sold with 25-year leases.

The theory behind the sin tax is that, eventually, ownership of the arena would fall to Franklin County. The Jackets could then rework their lease agreement with the county. The arena would retain its name, therefore, Nationwide would pay for naming rights. The plan is similar to that used in Cleveland to fund Jacobs Field and Gund Arena.

One would think that if an organization was bleeding money for the last seven years, more than half of the arena’s original cost of $150-million, something would’ve been set in motion a few years ago. The Jackets have been taking money from Hockey operations to cover operating costs, a “rob Peter to pay Paul” that might’ve worked early on but is not a quality plan for success.

If this sets forth motion of the Jackets eventually relocating, all of the good that the Jackets have done in their community — and I’m talking humanitarian here — will have been for naught. It’s too early in the game to speculate but something needs to be done with the Jackets and now. It seems like a sin tax is an easy fix and the Jackets are happy to pass costs on to someone else. This smacks of rich folks pleading poverty and expect the public to bail them out. Again. That the sin tax would be passed without a voter referendum is an even more egregious because it is against the will of the people… the ones who voted down a tax increase to begin with.

Go Blue Jackets.

Go away.

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One Response to “Blue Jackets Saga Getting Progressively Sillier”

  1. Blue Jackets Bleeding Green « Hockey Gone Wild Says:

    […] Jackets suffer from go unfixed. Back in May, you may remember that the Jackets were looking for ways to close on an $80-million gap in their books. Today, the Columbus Dispatch rattles the cage with dreary news that a Jackets-less Cow Town could […]

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