Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority
As questions swirled around the economic future of the Columbus Blue Jackets, representatives of Franklin County, the City of Columbus, The Ohio State University (OSU), Nationwide Insurance and the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority (CFA) formed a working committee to examine potential ways to help the Blue Jackets and keep them in Central Ohio. Along with OSU athletics, the Blue Jackets are one of the city’s biggest entertainment draws, and ensuring the viability of the team, along with Nationwide Arena, is important to not only the franchise’s future, but also the city’s economic health.
Dinsmore was the firm chosen to represent the CFA to negotiate and close this complex, multi-layered transaction. Dinsmore worked with the CFA and the other parties to develop a structure that allowed the CFA to take direct ownership of Nationwide Arena while allowing certain operating and capital expenses to be shared among the parties. To undertake this expense-sharing relationship, a non-profit entity called Columbus Arena Management (CAM) was formed as a joint undertaking by the CFA, Blue Jackets, Nationwide and OSU to operate and manage Nationwide Arena.
Dinsmore was intimately involved in all aspects of the transaction and took primary responsibility for drafting and negotiating the $42.5 million purchase agreement providing for the sale and restructuring of the existing arena ownership. Further, Dinsmore negotiated and prepared the other major agreements between the Blue Jackets, Nationwide and OSU that provided, amongst other items (i) the team’s continued use of the arena as its “home ice” through 2039, and (ii) the shared management and allocation of expenses for the arena. This transaction is projected to increase the arena’s viability as the financial stakes and responsibilities are now shared among a number of entities through CAM. Additionally, the Blue Jacket’s cost of occupancy is being reduced, which will enable them to better compete financially with other franchises.
The transaction marked one of the largest ventures between the private and public sectors in recent history in Central Ohio and made a significant statement within the Columbus community. In addition to ensuring the long-term viability of the Blue Jackets, Nationwide Arena and surrounding geographic areas, it also represents the coming together of several organizations and entities, each of which brought essential components to the transaction. In so doing, the CFA was able to build a better future for Columbus.
Dinsmore is proud and honored to have had the opportunity and responsibility to manage the process and provide counsel at each step.