Nationwide Upgrades

Nationwide Arena is prepping for a speedy summer upgrade to replace a portion of the Ohio venue’s seating before the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets return to play in September.

The board that oversees the 20,500-capacity venue recently approved an $837,865 expenditure for 6,000 new seats, the first of three phases of seating replacements planned for the coming years, according to Columbus Business First.

“We’ll try to make it as hidden as possible,” GM Vicki Chorman told the paper. “We’ve gotten to the point where the chairs are broken down and we’re running out of (replacement) parts.”

Chairs in the arena’s lower bowl and Sky Terrace section will be swapped during the upgrade, which should not affect concerts and other events this summer, Chorman added. Other renovations over the past year have included a new sound system and new scoreboard.

In other Nationwide Arena news, the venue is projecting a budget shortfall for its second fiscal year as a publicly owned arena.

The arena board recently noted during a meeting that the building is expected to bring in about $18.6 million in the 2014 fiscal year, with expenses of $18.8 million, according to the local Dispatch.

But the venue, which is operated by Ohio State University and the Blue Jackets, isn’t sweating the potential shortfall just yet.

Arena board COO Xen Riggs told the Dispatch the venue should wrap the current fiscal year, ending June 30, with a $550,000 surplus that would cover next year’s.

“Our budget is divided into two parts: the administration budget and the event side,” Riggs said. “And when we put the budget together, we don’t know who’s going to be touring. So this is a tool to monitor our spending, and it’s a moving target somewhat.”

Nationwide Arena reportedly took in about $12 million in ticket sales over the past year for concerts and other non-hockey events.