Columbus, Ohio is a city with a lot to offer–making later start times for Columbus Blue Jackets hockey games played at Nationwide Arena something worth talking about.
Let's set the scene:
You're getting out of work and heading downtown for a puck drop shortly after 7:00 p.m. After navigating through traffic and finding a parking spot it's already 6:15. Instead of having time to relax and grab a bite, you're forced to go to an overcrowded restaurant in the Arena District due to time constraints.
Fortunately, I worked in the restaurant industry for seven years, which meant I had the flexibility to not have to work past 3:00 p.m.–giving me some extra time to explore before entering the building. Almost half of my experiences trying out restaurants spanning from the Short North, to downtown, and even in Grandview on occasion were a by-product of going to a Jackets game.
The congested time frame between the end of the work day and the start of the first period can be rather stressful and leaves the patrons with limited options. This shouldn't be mistaken as an indictment on the dining and over-21 options to consume a beverage near the rink (shoutout to R Bar).
Later start times would allow patrons to sit down for a meal (or at least an appetizer). This circumstance would create a golden opportunity for the downtown area and the outskirts to get more exposure.
I've eaten at more than 15 unique establishments in advance of live professional hockey games, and that's not even scratching the surface.
There's nothing like being inside Nationwide Arena, but a more fulfilled experience outside the arena should garner more attention.
What's the ideal starting time? In my opinion it's 8:00 p.m. Drop the puck later in the evening and let the fans settle in. There's no need to rush.