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The Arena Manifesto — Prologue

I have now completed my discussions with Greg Kirstein, Sr.Vice President and General Counsel for the Blue Jackets, reviewed data furnished by both Greg and VP of Public Relations Todd Sharrock, and have done some independent review of data, assembled my thoughts, and now tackle the task of putting some perspective and context on the Nationwide Arena situation, the impact on the Blue Jackets, the efforts undertaken to date and options going forward. Quite a task, and far more than can be handled in a single post. So, this is the Prologue of sorts for what I have coming.

Rather than just providing a rather sterile recitation of facts and data, I want to try and weave a more complex tapestry, bringing history, experience, opinion and even some emotion into the picture, where appropriate. After all, this is my blog, not the N.Y. Times. I will be careful to attribute facts and opinions as appropriate.

By way of full disclosure, I bring a lot of different experience to bear on these issues, so you should know where I am coming from. As is obvious, I am a huge Blue Jacket fan — Day 1 season ticket holder, involved in the Jacket Backers, attend a few away games per year, etc. I am also a big hockey fan in general — few sporting events provide as much speed, skill and excitement as a hockey game. I am not a native to Columbus, or Ohio for that matter, having moved here 15 years ago from Northern California. While there, I lived through a number of franchises that left (California Golden Seals, Oakland Raiders), some that came (San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Raiders, Oakland A’s), some on the brink of being sold and moving (S.F. Giants, Oakland A’s) and all who had numerous stadium and Arena battles, some of which are ongoing. I also practiced law for the better part of 20 years, and spent a lot of time negotiating with government officials at all levels.

So, I bring a lot of “stuff” to the table when it comes to issues involving professional sports teams. I watched a bad S.F. 49ers team for years before they started piling up Super Bowls. I went to a few pathetic Seals games, and suffered through equally pathetic San Jose Sharks years (few realize that the Sharks still hold the NHL record for most losses in a season — 71). So I think I have earned my scars and have the basis to offer some opinions.

Agree, disagree as you will. My primary goal is to get people to look at this rationally, consider all of the facts, and not react in a knee-jerk manner. In general, I will examine in separate installments where we are today, how we got here, and where things are likely to proceed down the line.

I call this “The Arena Manifesto” advisedly. Greg Kirstein went to great lengths to note that this is first and foremost an Arena issue, not a Blue Jackets issue, and I am inclined to agree. While there is certainly significant fallout that impacts the Jackets, and provides impetus for them to drive the solution, it is the fundamental structure of Arena ownership and operation that is the key here.

So, sit back, relax, and prepare to give me your best shots. My Kevlar vest is back from the cleaners, so I am good to go. Hoping to have Installment One ready for publication tomorrow, Installment Two on Thursday and Installment Three on Saturday.

4 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    June 9, 2009 at 12:17 am

    Will be looking for your analysis. And thanks for attempting this project. I'm concerned;, no I"m worried, and am not thinking rationally about the arena issue, thus your comments will be appreciated more then ever, Thanks again.

  2. roadman

    June 9, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Always look forward to your analysis. It is a difficult situation that will take some thought and effort from all parties. I am sure it can be resolved, just don't know how yet. The Jackets and Nationwide are valuable assets for Columbus and central Ohio and shouldn't be dismissed offhand.

    Look forward to your read.

  3. Rob P

    June 9, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    Right on, give us the straight dope with a JAL twist! I'm anxious to see what you have to say…thanks for the time and energy you're putting into understanding this Arena fiasco.

  4. Hitch Rules

    June 12, 2009 at 12:29 am

    County Commisioner O'Grady responded to our own LTL, about what they're doing – or not doing – on the arena issue (actually the later). He (O'Grady) responds, in the typical, bureaucratic way. But, I did want to address a particular portion of his response – the part of his response that REALLYannoys me:

    "If the team folds, our community stands to lose a significant amount of jobs and tax revenue. Additionally, a bright and vibrant Arena District will lose one of its greatest assets."…

    One of it's greatest assets? How about THE GREATEST ASSET they have,
    down there? How about THE ONLY ASSET they have, down there?

    Lose a significant amount of jobs? Oh yeah, and yours, O'Gravy-Train, right along with
    it!

    Trust me, CBJ Nation, it's time to barrage O'Dufus-y – let's stand up, and let our voices be heard! Write! Write! Write! (to the commisioners) – and if they don't listen, and God forbid, this team leaves, even if they make it precariously close (or close, at all), we need to make sure the stewards of stupidity are ousted, come election time!

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