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Monday, April 28, 2008

Ownership moves on

Its been a couple of days now since Blue Jackets majority owner John H. McConnell passed. The question now turns to what is the state of the Jackets ownership now?


Quite frankly I'm not sure.

From my understanding Mr Mac's son, John P. McConnell (pictured right), will now be the majority owner. Questions that I would like answers to are the following:

1. What are his intentions with the team? Does he want to retain ownership or will he look to sell. I've heard rumblings that John P. is not particularly high on Ohio and that when he gets the chance he will unload the team to the highest bidder. I have no idea if there are legs to that rumor - I certainly hope not.

2. Does the short term plan change? We've read quotes from team president Mike Priest about how the franchise plans to spend, spend, spend this offseason. Is that still the plan going forward?

3. Does the Wolfe family, who is a minority owner, do they perhaps take a bigger stake in the team? Or what about Nationwide?

4. Is there any reason Jacket fans should worry about a franchise move? What is Nationwide's lease details? Could they even consider a move?

I'm sure as the days move forward the Dispatch beats will get a lot of these kinds of questions answered.

One thing this franchise really had going for it was a stable ownership group. Of course with Mr. Mac's passing that foundation feels a little shaky.

I do know that its not an easy thing to relocate a franchise and I can't imagine many scenarios where the league, the city or Nationwide would let this team get away. You can't have a multi-million dollar state of the art stadium losing its major tenant. That is not even considering the millions and millions Nationwide has pumped into the Arena District.

Some talking heads out there (ahem ESPN) seem to take shots at the NHL and hockey whenever they get the chance but the bottom line is that pro hockey is a money maker. Its a multi billion dollar industry and cities, lots of cities, would kill for a franchise. Yes OSU is the big dog in this market but pro hockey does a helluva for this town - think there would be an Arena District, a new Clippers stadium, a Nationwide, or a revitalized downtown without the Jackets?

Hell no.

What about the millions the Jackets charity foundations have raised, or the jobs that have been created in this town because of the Jackets? What about some of the events that have happened in this city since the NHL team arrived? ..and I'm not just talking about the hockey related events like men's USA Olympic training camp, the NHL Draft or the World Championship games. I'm talking about some of the world class concerts and events Nationwide puts on every year and even attracting the NCAA Final Four tournament games.

Which brings me to my "many scenarios" comment. We've heard a lot of rumblings that Mayor Coleman would like to get an NBA team in town. This city isn't big enough for two team winter professional sports competing directly with one another for fans and more importantly business revenue. There just aren't enough dollars to go around. So if somehow, someway he managed to lure a NBA team to this market does that make the NHL team expendable?

Yeah I'll admit I'm probably over-reacting here but when you lose the cornerstone of the franchise, its backbone so-to-speak, in Mr Mac you know the vultures are going to start circling.

There are no guarantees in this world but this is one fan who would like some reassurances that ownership is stable and there are no plans to sell or even remotely consider the possibility of a relocation.

I've always held the belief that if the city ever loses this team it wouldn't ever have a major pro sport's franchise again.

We lost a great man in Mr. Mac and I just hope as time marches on that we don't lose one of the great gifts he left us all to enjoy.

-LTL

4 comments:

Douglas said...

Trading hockey for basketball would be the WORST TRADE EVER.

Worst.

Trade.

Ever.

Just last night I was talking with a friend, and we both agreed that basketball is the exact opposite from hockey: it's easy to score points, physical contact is at a minimum, and the players are ridiculous hype-machines, not real people.

Coleman needs to clam up until the Jackets establish themselves as a solid team in the NHL.

Anonymous said...

I think John P is going to be supportive of keeping the franchise in Columbus. For what its worth, Worthington Industries sponsors a team in the Chiller Adult Hockey League on Sunday nights, and John P and his son (grandson to John H) both play on the team. John P took up hockey to play on this team. At least once when we played them, John H was there to cheer on their team. It was pretty cool seeing him there. I think the whole McConnell family is committed to the Columbus hockey scene.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand Nationwide has the first say on whether or not the team is sold. It would be in Nationwide's best interest to keep the team there--what is the sense of having that great building without a tenant?

JP wants to sell? Fine, but I am thinking the condition for the new owner would be to keep the team in Columbus, otherwise Nationwide would veto the sale.

Tom said...

Nice post. The thoughts you expressed have crossed my mind, too.