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Mayor's Office Stands By Arena Payments

The mayor’s office maintains Columbus residents still support the public purchase of Nationwide Arena. Voters could decide the issue after a citizens group collected enough signatures to ask voters if they want to stop city payments on the Arena. The Franklin County Board of Elections said the Columbus Coalition for Responsive Government gathered enough valid signatures to move forward with a ballot initiative. The measure would ask voters if they want to end lease payments for Nationwide Arena. Payments would only resume if voters approved them in a subsequent election. The group said city leaders sidestepped the electorate’s voice by using casino tax revenue to finance the arena. Voters have rejected a publicly-funded arena five times. Mayor Michael Coleman’s spokesman Dan Williamson countered voters did not want a tax increase to pay for an arena. “That’s not at all what this deal was. And there have been, as you know, elections since then for the office holders on the city and county level who supported this deal. So the voters have spoken on this," Williamson said. The group’s proposed ordinance will go to city council where it is likely to be rejected. The issue could appear on the ballot in May.