Ohio Pro Sports Venues Cost Taxpayers Millions In Upgrades

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Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio(Photo: Natalie Litz)
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio(Photo: Natalie Litz)

In recent weeks, pro sports teams in Cleveland and Cincinnati have asked government owners of their stadiums for repair money. Here in Columbus, the Blue Jackets are looking to upgrade Nationwide Arena, which is to be owned by taxpayers. WOSU reports on who will pay for the upgrades.

Despite its relatively young age, the Jackets say Nationwide Arena needs some upgrades, especially with the NHL All Star game coming to town.

The Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority soon will operate the arena. CFA head Bill Jennison has his to-do list.

“The existing scoreboard is over 12 years old and it’s sort of old technology and it’s kind of low definition. It doesn’t really meet the requirements of a scoreboard that would be put into a arena that’s being built today…So there’s a plan to replace the seating over the next few years. And there’s other just little odds and ends and little garage repairs,” Jennison said.

Such requests are not uncommon. The Cleveland Browns recently asked city leaders for a nearly $6 million advance for capital improvements.

And the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals need almost $2 million from Hamilton County to help pay for new fields.
Even though the details are still being worked out, Jennison said the CFA, Blue Jackets, Nationwide Realty and Ohio State, which manages the arena, will share the cost for any repairs. OSU’s contribution is capped at $7 million.

But Jennison said he’s not worried about the arena becoming a money pit.

“We’ve looked at what the needs are over the next 10 years, and there is adequate money from the reserve plus the casino taxes to cover that. And as a fall back, if it needs more, the Blue Jackets will pay a third, Nationwide will pay a third and somebody else will pay a third,” he said.

That somebody else are the taxpayers of Columbus and Franklin County.

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