Saturday, September 02, 2000

Arena district may spark nightlife

The Associated Press

        COLUMBUS — While it's a long way from becoming a city that never sleeps, Columbus might stay awake longer once it's home to the $500 million Nationwide Arena District.

        Many people expect the renewal under way on the downtown's north end — which includes a professional hockey arena suitable for concerts and other events — to bring new life to the city and change the way people spend their evenings.

        Planners expect the $150 mil lion arena nestled amid skyscrapers to draw up to 18,000 people downtown for each of the 41 home games of the National Hockey League's new Columbus Blue Jackets team and as many as 20,000 for the 100 concerts and other events planned.

        They are counting on the surrounding district's restaurants, bars, nightclubs and a 10-screen movie theater to keep people coming downtown when nothing is scheduled at the arena.

        While there are residential neighborhoods close to down town including German Village and Old Towne East, as of 1999 there were only 3,383 people living downtown.

        Brian Ellis, president of Nationwide Realty Investments, said the 350 apartments planned for the arena district are key to a city's night life.

        “It will not be considered a complete success until it becomes a real neighborhood with people calling it their home,” he said.


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