Coleman hints at public takeover of Nationwide ArenaWednesday, March 10, 2010 2:49 AMTHE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Officials involved in talks to stabilize the Columbus Blue Jackets’ finances hinted yesterday that the plan taking shape is likely to include public ownership of Nationwide Arena.
In an appearance on All Sides With Ann Fisher, the WOSU-AM public-affairs program, Mayor Michael B. Coleman said he envisions the involvement of both the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority and Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.
So what is the bigger tease, the Coleman story in The Dispatch or the win last night in Anaheim? Hard to pick this one.
Another blogger hints that the team might come out of this lost season better off with a high draft pick and some good reasons to get rid of the front office staff who helped dig this hole that the team is in. (Although I fail to see why game ops people should be part of this house cleaning. Did they fail to sign Malhotra or trade Torres? If the team was winning, you wouldn’t care what they showed on the arena video screen.) This makes sense, but I think things need to move along further. If the arena story is accurate and the team does get bailed out of its financial sinkhole, then one more person should leave.
This is going to cause trouble for me, but if money issues can be stabilized, I think it is time for John McConnell to sell the team to a local person or group. I have been waiting for him take some kind of public leadership role during this season, but he has been silent. Granted, he has a full-time job running Worthington Industries, and he has shown success at this, but as for the Blue Jackets, nothing. If he is content to let Mike Priest do all of the heavy lifting and fix the Jacket financial issues, that is a strange way for him to treat his father’s biggest legacy. As a PSL owner, I always received some kind of letter(s) from his father during the season, thanking me for investing in the team, apologizing for the poor performance of the team, or promising me a brighter future. But nothing from the current owner. And that is troubling.
The vast majority of NHL owners are hands’ on guys, good or bad. But here in Columbus, we get silence. As I stated earlier, if they can fix the financial problems, then John McConnell should sell the team, get a fair return on his inheritance, and bring in a new owner who can put some focus into building a winner. This will sound selfish, but I feel that the PSL owners and fans are owed something for their patience and support. The players are owed something, the management are owed something, and the NHL is owed something. When I hear Scott Howson or others talk about shopping around for a quality defenseman or center, I know this is nothing but talk. Good players do not want to come here because they have seen the organization squander away the many opportunities that it has had. Top draft picks have been missed or mishandled. Minor league systems have been neglected. Reckless business decisions are routine here. Free agents have had money thrown at them while played inappropriately.
If there is a light at the end of the tunnel, I hope it means better things for John McConnell. I hope he can sell the team to a local individual or group who keeps it here and builds a hockey team whose objective is to work hard and win.