It appears that the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL are one step closer to staying in the state capital. City officials have approved a plan to keep the financially troubled team in Columbus until 2039 by allowing their home, Nationwide Arena, to be purchased with the help of casino revenue. Under the proposal, the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority would buy the arena from Nationwide Realty Investors using state and other loans and receive part of tax revenues from a casino being built in Columbus. Nationwide would invest $52 million in the Blue Jackets and take a 30 percent interest in the team.
WCMH-TV reports Columbus City Council approved the plan Monday. It also faces approval by the mayor and county commissioners.
The idea of purchasing the arena, using casino tax revenue is a controversial one. One resident in favor of the plan is Chris Haydocy. At the end of the day, for so many reasons, this is a solution which is needed, said Haydocy while speaking during a public comment section of the meeting. There were those against, such as Dave Ebersol. So there's two problems with this deal, said Ebersol to council. The first is democracy and second is this is a bad deal.
Those in favor of the plan say that the loss of jobs in the arena district would be devastating to the city. "The arena district has more than 170 businesses and an estimated 7,000 workers, the Blue Jackets bring people to Columbus to contribute to these businesses," said Geri Lombard with the Greater Columbus Lodging Council.
Opponents fired back saying that voters should make this decision, not those in elected office.
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