Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

How Would NBA franchise affect Columbus Blue Jackets?

Columbus, Ohio sets on the brink of greatness. With the population well into the 800,000 mark, it’s not just some “College town,” Ranked in many “smartest cities” and “best cities to live in,” Columbus continues to grow, to improve. Bigger than Atlanta, Seattle, and Detroit, the 15th largest U.S. City is represented by Ohio State football, Columbus Blue Jackets hockey, Columbus Crew soccer, and Triple-A baseball in the Columbus Clippers.

Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Is it time for a NBA franchise in Arch City?

If so, how would this affect the other sports teams in the city, most notably the Blue Jackets? Let’s start with the Buckeyes. Football has run supreme. There’s no real debate there, and that’s okay. It has rich history and its tradition makes the program a treasure. Ohio State football will always be fine, will probably always be king. And like I just said, that’s okay.

The Clippers organization is technically professional, but only Triple-A. A professional basketball team in this city wouldn’t have to worry about drawing fans away from the Clippers. Not only do they play in different seasons, there would be no competition. The Columbus Crew? Although winning the MLS cup in 2008, the Crew still doesn’t get the respect it deserves. Despite having a passionate fan base, Columbus soccer is still on the outside, looking in.

That takes us to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

How would Columbus NBA affect our hockey club? They would play during the same season, same arena. Excitement, fandom, coverage would be up in the air. I tend to think that,more than any other team, the Jackets would suffer from having a NBA team in their city.

Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Or would they?

Ask me this question 3 years ago, it was no debate. The Columbus Blue Jackets were downright abysmal, embarrassing our city and our fans. Despite loyalty, you got the sense that the future of the hockey club was cloudy at best. How long would fans put up with it? It wasn’t as if it was our sport, we didn’t grow up with it. As passionate as we were about the team, it wasn’t in our blood, rather a luxury. But a last place luxury sure didn’t feel like a reward.

We were on the brink of irrelevancy, even inside our city limits. Relocation was never a serious threat or factor, but last in the league, year after year, with 12,000 a night was on the menu for the foreseeable future. Three years ago NBA in Columbus May have delivered the final knockout punch.

Things are rather different in today’s Columbus Blue Jackets. I see nothing but a bright future for this team. Although attendance still dragged its feet last season, that is sure to change with last year’s playoff berth. Excitement continues to grow with our confidence. We are becoming a hockey town.

Would a NBA team affect that?

It’s hard to say. In the first few years of Blue Jackets history, Columbus sold out every game for years. No matter the record fans were just excited to have a new team in town. So would that happen with the NBA team? Would all of the hard work for the Blue Jackets just go down the drain when NBA comes waltzing into Nationwide?

Of course fans can be fans of both teams. After all, they’re playing for the same city. And they’re different sports. I understand all of that. But would the level of excitement for NBA drown out the scream of Blue Jacket hockey?

In my gut I say initially, but only briefly. The Blue Jackets have struggled through basement years, going up against the juggernaut that is Ohio State football to get to where they are now. NBA in Columbus would take away from that excitement, that attention only briefly. The future of the Columbus Blue Jackets is bright, and shall outshine.
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