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Nationwide Arena Purchase Moves Forward

Taxpayers are even closer to owning a sports arena. Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority board members approved the CFA’s portion of the deal. In a unanimous vote, Convention Facilities Authority board members approved a resolution to allow the authority to apply for a $10 million loan from the state to help purchase Nationwide Arena. Bill Jennison heads up the CFA. Jennison said they hope to purchase the arena by the first of the year, and Tuesday’s vote is one more item checked off the list. “The goal is to have the transaction effective January First, so there’s a lot of documents that have to be assembled and completed. But that’s the goal," Jennison said. The arena’s total purchase price is $42.5 million. Voters in the past have turned down tax increases to fund a local arena. But this deal proposes using tax revenue from the west side casino to pay off the loan. Board members heard from one public speaker, Dave Ebersole, who opposes to the arena purchase. "This is revenue debt tied to casino money. We still have to pay that debt even if the casino money dries up," Ebersole argued. Local leaders say the deal is necessary to keep the Blue Jackets in Columbus and retain the tax revenue generated from the Arena District. The team has been losing money for years, and the deal’s creators say it should help the Blue Jackets become more financially solvent. Columbus City Council approved the purchase earlier this month. Up next is a vote from Franklin County Commissioners which is expected in November.