Blue Jacket Rescue Proposal

A plan to keep the financially strapped Columbus Blue Jackets NHL team in business includes the use of future casino tax revenue and the sale of the team’s home turf, Nationwide Arena.

Under the proposal, the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority would buy the 20,500-capacity arena from Nationwide Realty Investors for about $42.5 million and get a cut of the city and county tax revenues from a casino under construction near Columbus.

Nationwide would then invest $52 million in the team, become a 30 percent owner and buy another 10 years of naming rights to the facility. The Blue Jackets would agree to stay in the city until 2039.

Ohio State University has handled management of the arena as well as its own 20,000-capacity Schottenstein Center. Under the proposal, a new nonprofit group, Community Arena Management, would take over those duties at both venues.

Blue Jackets President Mike Priest supports the plan, saying it could “offer a solution that will provide a long-term, sustainable business model for the organization.”

The hockey team has reportedly been losing about $12 million annually amid declining attendance and other costs as the team has only made the playoffs once in 11 years.

City officials hope to have the deal approved by all parties by the end of the year.