Cash Strapped Jackets

The chamber of commerce in Columbus, Ohio, is weighing options to hold on to the city’s NHL team, which has been losing roughly $12 million annually during its nine years of operation.

While the Columbus Blue Jackets have attempted to shore up funds several times over the years through tax proposals, it appears city officials are planning to step in over economic concerns that the city could lose the team.

According to the chamber’s report, the district surrounding the Blue Jackets’ home, Nationwide Arena, reportedly employs more than 5,500 people and generates more than $1.6 billion in sales annually and officials have taken notice.

“It is important that our community retain this team,” chamber president Dave Blom said in a statement. “The Columbus Blue Jackets impact our regional economy, support thousands of jobs, and bring millions of dollars in tax revenue that contribute to our quality of life.”

The chamber report outlines numerous ideas for strengthening the team’s standing.

Possibilities include renegotiating the Jackets’ lease at the privately owned Nationwide Arena, coordinating marketing and management of events with other Ohio venues, once again pursuing public revenues for the venue and using tax-exempt government financing to acquire the building.

Without ownership of the arena, the team apparently absorbs the building’s operating losses but doesn’t get to benefit from other revenues including seat licensing, suite and parking fees.

Blue Jackets President Mike Priest lamented the team’s current economic model and said finding a solution is crucial.

“Public partnership in arenas and stadiums has been a critical element to ensuring healthy, competitive sports franchises in markets across the country, including Cleveland and Cincinnati in Ohio, and our priority continues to be to secure long-term financial viability in this great city,” Priest said in a statement.