October 18th, 2015
Mark Williams, The Columbus Dispatch
It was an unusual strategy at the time: Build an arena in a beat-up area of downtown, with plans to surround it with office buildings, restaurants, entertainment venues and apartments, in hopes of turning it around.
Now 15 years after the first puck was dropped at Nationwide Arena, the strategy not only succeeded, but it also has become a blueprint for development in a growing number of other cities.
Politicians and development officials from cities throughout North America have visited the Arena District, taking ideas back home that are now being deployed.
Officials from Detroit; Milwaukee; Edmonton, Alberta; Sacramento, Calif.; and Pittsburgh have been among those who have come to the Arena District, according to the district’s developer, Nationwide Realty Investors.
“‘How do we replicate this?’ That’s what people are asking,” said Mark Rosentraub, professor of sport management at the University of Michigan, who has studied the development of arenas and stadiums. “Some of those people thought it couldn’t happen.”
In Pittsburgh, the Penguins of the NHL are developing a 28-acre site near the $321 million Consol Energy Center that opened in 2010. The site is the former Civic Arena where the Penguins used to play.