Nationwide Realty Needs To Offer Arena District Land To Save The Crew

BrewDog has stepped up. Now it’s time for Nationwide Realty to do their part.

Nationwide Realty, the real estate arm of Nationwide Insurance, has been a prime driver in the renaissance downtown Columbus has seen in the past two decades.

The Arena District is almost entirely developed, but Nationwide still owns a large undeveloped plot of land on the western edge that would work for a new Crew stadium.

A Nationwide Realty land donation plus BrewDog involvement looks like the only feasible plan that could keep the Crew in Columbus.

The history of this land is fairly straight forward with Penn National Gaming previously owning the land. When Hollywood Casino ended up on the west side, they sold the land to Nationwide Realty for $11 million in 2011.

Nationwide’s plan since has been to build apartments and condos on the site.

The skeptical might ask why it’s reasonable to expect Nationwide Realty to gift land that has probably now appreciated to over $20 million+.

That’s a fair question. It’s a question that could make this idea a non-starter.

The answer is that corporations have a responsibility to step up in the cities they call home.

Anthony Precourt has argued Columbus corporate support for the Crew hasn’t been sufficient.

Is he wrong? (Partially, yes. And yet…) Look at the list of Save The Crew allies. It seems like Columbus love comes mostly from the mid level Columbus businesses, and not the corporate giants. Maybe the largest central Ohio companies are working behind the scenes, but I have heard otherwise.

I’ve been warned against even asking this question (and it’s not a question that you’ll ever see asked by Columbus Business First or the Columbus Dispatch), but where is L Brands? Why does it feel like a foregone conclusion that they wouldn’t be involved? Where is Cardinal Health? This is a central Ohio company that makes $2 billion in profit a year, and yet they seemingly fly under the radar when it comes to central Ohio issues.

Anthony Precourt deservedly is viewed as a villain, but if the largest companies in Columbus wanted to put together a solution to this mess, it could be done by next week.

Nationwide Insurance is a Fortune 500 company, usually well within the top 100. Donating this parcel of land would not represent hardship for a company that’s the real estate arm of an insurance giant with $209 billion in assets.

Stadiums are a dubious use of public money. Everyone, I think, knows this by now. But that doesn’t mean they drive zero economic growth, it just means the ROI isn’t sufficient to justify tax dollars being spent.

A clustering of sports stadiums and arenas, like we would have with Nationwide Arena, Huntington Park, and the new Crew Stadium (BrewDog Stadium?) would be a tremendous boon to downtown. Other cities have seen clear benefit from clustering their stadiums in this way, with Detroit being the prime midwestern example. Their stadiums are blocks apart, similar to what we would see here if Crew stadium were built on this Arena District West land.

What can be done?

If you feel strongly about keeping the Crew, call Nationwide Realty.

Their media contacts are listed here.

Ask them what they are doing to keep the Crew in Columbus. They won’t act when it comes to the Crew unless they feel pressured.

And thank BrewDog. Tell James Watt you appreciate what they are doing.

Columbus would be a better place if every single member of the corporate community shared BrewDog’s love for the city. Let’s see that become reality.

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