Though upcoming repairs will be funded, officials are hoping that a proposed ticket tax will be a firm solution to funding Nationwide Arena improvements.
Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH is set for a major project this summer that will lead to two of its three chillers being replaced. The arena is currently expected to turn a $108,897 profit this fiscal year, and those profits–along with revenue from the venue’s $2.3 million rainy-day fund–will cover the upcoming $1.2-million project.
That allows officials to move forward with that project, but future improvements to Nationwide Arena will need a firmer funding source. Revenue from the local portion of the casino tax is allocated to the arena, but it has never lived up to what had been hoped. A current proposal is to institute a new ticket tax on events within the Columbus city limits, with a portion of that revenue and Franklin County sales-tax money being directed toward Nationwide Arena and other initiatives.
The Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority is hopeful that the proposal will come to fruition, but nothing has been decided to this point. More from the Columbus Dispatch:
“We are counting on that,” [authority executive director Don] Brown said. “We can’t rely solely on operating reserves to meet the (capital expenditure) needs.”
The initial proposal outlined in January was for the city to levy a tax of 3 to 8 percent on tickets to arts, cultural, entertainment and professional sporting events within the city limits and for Franklin County to contribute sales-tax revenue.
Together, those sources could generate $15 million to $20 million a year, with $4 million being earmarked for the arena and the rest going to artists and organizations that the arts council supports.
A final plan hasn’t materialized out of that proposal, though, despite several meetings between the authority, the arts council and their lobbyists and city and county officials.
The Columbus City Council would have to sign off on the ticket tax, which would generate $3.75 million to $10 million, and Franklin County commissioners would have to agree to contribute a portion of the county’s sales-tax revenue.
Future Nationwide Arena improvements outlined for the arena include scoreboard upgrades in 2021 ($5 million), and a new roof in 2022 ($5 million). Home to the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, Nationwide Arena originally opened in 2000.