Columbus Appears a Longshot To Be a "Hub City," As Toronto Is Now Considered Among the Frontrunners

By Rob Mixer on June 20, 2020 at 8:10 am
Shirts distributed among the seats at Nationwide Arena prior to Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Aaron Doster – USA TODAY Sports

A month ago, it felt inevitable that Columbus would be a hub city for the NHL's Return To Play.

Not unlike many things over the last few weeks, that belief has changed quickly. 

Previous border regulations between the United States and Canada (such as a mandatory 14-day quarantine for any persons traveling to Canada) have been eased, according to Canadian CTV.

The belief among many is the league would prefer to have one of its two hub cities in Canada and – this may surprise you – Toronto has been the odds-on favorite to get the nod. Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic threw a bit of cold water on the idea of Toronto leading the way, but let's just say a lot of people are pointing in that direction.

It was previously reported that Las Vegas was a lock to be a hub city, and despite rising COVID-19 cases in the state of Nevada, the plan seems to be moving forward. A report from the Las Vegas Review-Journal said an announcement regarding the city's hub bid would be made no later than June 22.

Which brings us back to Columbus.

The state's proactive response to the pandemic was thought to be an advantage. What may eventually doom this bid, however, is a lack of adequate hotel space near to Nationwide Arena (though this seems a bit flimsy on the surface). 

Yes, the Hilton downtown is the preferred hotel of almost every visiting NHL team in Columbus. But a few blocks north is The Joseph, where visiting MLS teams have stayed in recent years. Canopy (a Hilton property), the new Marriott Moxy, and The LeVeque are all within a mile or so of the arena. 

It's not too difficult to connect the dots and figure the NHL simply wants a hub city in Canada. 

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