News broke early this morning via the Columbus Dispatch that Mayor Michael Coleman has written a letter to the NBA asking for consideration to host an NBA team. Reaction was swift and strong from many in the Blue Jackets fan base wanting to preserve the sanctity of Nationwide Arena as a house of hockey – only. Conversation also veered into territory implying that this was an indictment on the state of the Blue Jackets.
But, for those of you who know me, I am a big fan of taking a step back and looking at the facts as we currently have them without innuendo. So let’s see what we have:
- So far, Michael Coleman, a long-known basketball fan, has written a letter to the NBA. This is the equivalent thus far of when you see an old friend at the coffee shop and say “we should get together some time.” You mean it – you want to do it – but its a long way from happening
- Spin doctor tweets aside, the NBA has stated there are no immediate plans to expand in their formal response – thus, Columbus would need to bring an already existing team to Columbus
- Who is looking to relocate right now? One team – the Sacramento Kings. They are owned by the Maloof family – who owns the Palms in Vegas
- Columbus hasn’t even been on the radar of current cities vying for an NBA franchise – and, the recent lockout showed a market discrepancy between “large market” and “small market teams” – specifically, small market teams are losing money at an astonishing rate
- The county owns the arena and can do with it as they wish
- Ohio already has an NBA team within state lines, and another only 180 miles away in Indianapolis. While its debatable that Indy would have a say in another franchise arriving in the neighborhood, Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, would most assuredly be consulted
- The Blue Jackets are losing money. The Blue Jackets are also losing games – more than they win.
- There are cities that are balancing the presence of an NBA and NHL team – 10 in fact: LA, Toronto, Philly, Denver, Chicago Miami, Boston, DC, New York and Dallas
The concern in Blue Jackets land seems to arise on the perceived impact on the Blue Jackets – and one sentence in an article that states that the arrival of an NBA team could increase the organization’s financial woes by drawing fan dollars elsewhere. (Its proven sharing facilities isn’t a problem)
From where I sit, we’re still where we have always been – winning cures everything. A winning hockey team will draw ticket buyers and merchandise money regardless of what else is happening. Further, we are so far away from this concept becoming reality that it is not yet time to panic. The number of chips that have to fall our way are many, and complex. This is still a nascent idea in the mind of a community leader who happens to really like basketball and who, to his credit, is looking for ways to bring more dollars into the city.
For now, let’s rally around our team and look to build a winning organization that withstands competing events of all kinds in Central Ohio, versus fearing that we will whither away.