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.