Word out of the Dispatch this AM suggests that Mayor Michael Coleman has sent a letter of interest to the National Basketball Association that promotes Nationwide Arena as a potential home for an NBA team.
Good for Coleman.
I say this for three reasons:
1. Columbus is a major American city and deserves the full variety of entertainment options. (I know, we're talking about the NBA. "Entertainment" is a loose term here.) The NBA serves a largely different entertainment market than the NHL or Major League Soccer. So let that market get served.
2. Nationwide Arena now is a public facility, which means that it is incumbent on the Powers That Be to maximize the revenue that it generates. This is especially important when you consider that the Arena purchase is being financed by an as-yet-unrealized casino tax - a tax that surely will fluctuate with the state of the economy. As a Franklin County property taxpayer whose money might some day go toward paying for the arena if the casino tax money doesn't pan out, I consider it irresponsible for Mayor Coleman and his counterparts at Franklin County to be satisfied with anything less than a revenue-generating event every single day at Nationwide Arena. An NBA team would bring with it 41 regular-season games (not to mention exhibition games and playoff games) - that's one-ninth of a 365-day calendar. What's to lose in trying?
3. A steady stream of income should never be taken for granted in any market economy. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Columbus Crew (or the Ohio State University, for that matter) are not entitled to "first dibs" on the public's sports dollar just because they were here first. This is called competition, and competition makes the competitors work harder to deliver better products and better experiences to the purchasing public - or perhaps drives down prices to maximize audience size. Or they go away if they don't want to compete.
Now let's get this straight: I really, really don't like the NBA's brand of basketball. I find no joy in watching 7-foot men stand around and wait for a a couple guys to play one-on-one. Give me hockey any day, twice on Sundays. (Or maybe lacrosse. That Ohio Machine game over the weekend was entertaining.)
Other people like pro hoops, however. I hope they enjoy seeing the NBA come to Columbus some day.