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Franklin County Commissioners Set To Vote On Arena Deal

In what should be the final step to finalize a city and county arena purchase, Franklin County Commissioners are expected to vote on the deal Tuesday morning. Their approval has been anticipated for about two months, but Franklin County Commissioners are finally set to cast a ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ on the $42.5 million Nationwide Arena purchase by the county Convention Facilities Authority. Columbus City Council, the facilities authority and the state controlling board all have signed off on the deal. In an earlier interview with WOSU, Commissioner Marilyn Brown said a publicly-owned arena would give the financially-struggling Blue Jackets an opportunity to focus on the ice rather than fiscal troubles. Nationwide would lend the city and county the money to buy the arena, and the city and county would pay back the loan – about $10 million a year – with tax revenue from the not-yet-completed west side casino. Local leaders worried the NHL franchise would leave town because it could no longer afford its lease with Nationwide Realty which currently owns the arena. The team has been losing money for years, as much as $16 million in 2008. City and county officials say buying the arena is necessary to keep the revenue streams flowing from the Arena District where the Blue Jackets play 41 regular season home games a year.