COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Fans of the Blue Jackets could soon be allowed back into Nationwide Arena for the 2020-21 season.
The team issued a statement earlier today, announcing a limited seating plan, with support from Columbus Public Health. However, it’s news that could bring some much-needed business back to the Arena District.
“First time in about 11 months that we’ve had something positive,” said Tim Emery, owner of Boston’s Restaurant & Sport’s Bar.
For 13 years, Emery has owned Boston’s Restaurant & Sport’s Bar, located in the heart of the Arena District. He said the news to allow limited seating capacity is a huge win, especially since the plan would allow 10% of Nationwide Arena’s capacity or slightly fewer than 2,000 fans to attend.
Emery hopes that number will be enough to get business going.
“It’s a good move in the right direction. I’m not sure how it translates really with 10%,” Emery said. “I don’t think we’ve ever done a hockey game with just 10% of the people in there, so I’m not 100% sure what they expect, but like I said, it is something positive and we’re moving in the right direction.”
Meanwhile, other restaurant owners say this news couldn’t come soon enough.
“Last year, we would have 25 on hand staff, we’d be at max capacity with a line out the door,” said Michael Darr, owner of R Bar Arena.
Darr says because of the pandemic, he’s down to only around 5 people on staff. It’s why he hopes this slow reopening of the arena isn’t rolled back anytime soon.
“Hopefully, this is just the start of a ramp up back to normality, just got to be patient and watch, and that’s what I’ve kind of learned, don’t get your hope up until it happens,” Darr said.
The Blue Jackets say they’re still awaiting final approval from state officials on their reopening plan, but hope to get fans back in the arena one week after it’s confirmed.