Nationwide Arena is Considering a "User Fee" for All Tickets if Major Repairs are Ever Needed

By Sam Blazer on July 14, 2017 at 8:27 am
Columbus Blue Jackets' fans get ready to enter Nationwide Arena for a game.
Aaron Doster-USA Today Sports

Changes may be coming to how you attend Nationwide Arena. That is if disaster ever strikes.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Nationwide Arena turns a very small operating profit and are looking at different ways they could make money in short order if major repairs are ever needed.

The Dispatch goes on to describe the situation that the arena faces as years continue to pass on the deal they reached.

The discussion of finances for Nationwide Arena came a day before Columbus Arena Management (CAM), which operates and manages the facility, holds its only public meeting of 2017. That meeting Thursday will focus on the arena’s finances for 2018.

The arena is making enough money to operate. It’s not making enough for big repairs or to repay the original $42.5 million loan from a subsidiary of Nationwide Insurance, which the authority used to buy the arena. That loan, with interest, today has grown to $58.4 million and, if no payments are made, will total $98.6 million by 2029.

The hope was that taxes from the local casino would be able to offset any cost for Nationwide Arena but those numbers have been much lower than expected.

The Dispatch reports that $4 million of the arena's $24.6 million revenue comes from the casino tax revenue. They also note that without it rather than a modest $1.5 million profit, they would be in a $2.5 million hole instead.

The casino tax revenue has helped keep the lights on in Nationwide Arena but it has yet to help pay back the loan debt. As part of the deal as well, the state reportedly pitched in $10 million but if the arena meets certain benchmarks, half of it will be forgiven. 

Don Brown, executive director of the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority said to the Dispatch that if those benchmarks are met, that $5 million of the loan would be forgiven in 2021.

Brown went on to state that if major repairs are needed that they would likely come from the arena stakeholders first (CAM, Nationwide Arena, and Ohio State University) before having to impose such a "ticket tax."


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