Push To Have Voters Decide Arena Purchase Funding Clears Procedural Hurdle
The Franklin County Board of Elections says a citizens group has collected enough valid petition signatures to place a measure on the May ballot that would end the city of Columbus' purchase contract for Nationwide Arena.
If the measure from the Columbus Coalition for Responsive Government makes the ballot and voters approve it, the group then wants to put a second measure on the November ballot that would allow voters to decide whether the payments would resume. The initiative now goes to City Council, which will decide whether to enact it or send it to the board to put it before the voters. In 2011, the city and Franklin County agreed to use 250 million dollars in casino tax revenue to purchase, operate and maintain the arena through the year 2039. City and county officials say the deal was designed to bail out the Columbus Blue Jackets and protect Arena District jobs. The coalition says the plan should have been subject to a vote of the people. The initiative is likely to face court challenges because it's not clear if voters may legally overturn such a contract.