Happy Monday morning, Columbus.
The Blue Jackets are on a roll, baby. Against all odds and conventional wisdom, the team is playing like a contender. Heck, they beat Boston in Boston last week.
But this column doesn’t start in Boston. It starts in Columbus a few days before we celebrated a new year …
My youngest daughter bought me a hat for Hanukkah.
It’s a warm and comfy Columbus Blue Jackets hat in red, white and blue. It’s topped with a pom pom.
Caroline purchased it for me as a replacement for the Blue Jackets hat that I gladly tossed to the ice on Nov. 29 when forward Gustav Nyquist scored a hat trick in the team’s 5-2 win over the Penguins at Nationwide Arena.
That was a glorious night spent celebrated with my other daughter, Mara, who is my partner at Blue Jackets games.
I have a few other Blue Jackets hats at home, but that was among my favorites. It was a third jersey hat that I quite liked. A nice topper, if you will.
Here it is:
Anyhoo, I wore the new hat on New Year’s Eve.
My wife, Jackie, and I started out the evening in the Brewery District, where we dug into a platter of “bread and fat” at Rockmill Tavern, drank some fine brews and shared a wonderful dinner. You might remember I wrote about said bread and fat in a past column. It is an amazing plate full of sin and flavor.
Go try it. Now. You’ll thank me. (By the way, if you are on a diet that restricts bread and fats, you might order the veggie platter.)
After a delightful meal, Jackie and I headed to the Arena District to watch the Blue Jackets play the Florida Panthers, who brought Sergei Bobrovsky back to Columbus for his first game at Nationwide Arena since leaving over the summer.
Jackie doesn’t attend that many games. But when she does, she expects the team to 1) score every time they bring the puck down the ice, 2) stop every shot on defense, 3) win, and 4) win by a lot.
That’s a lot of pressure on a team that has lost a good chunk of its starters to a ridiculous number of injuries, including one suffered by its starting goalie in the previous game.
In all, 10 players who should have been on the ice were nursing various body parts that were broken, ripped and bruised.
One that really deflated confidence was Joonas Korpisalo’s injury. He tore the meniscus in a knee Sunday afternoon, and that meant that Elvis Merzlikins would start in goal on Tuesday.
Elvis had yet to notch an NHL win. He was 0-4 heading into New Year’s Eve.
Jackie was not impressed with the odds. Oh, and she is not a fan of goalies who leave the crease to chase down pucks. She yells at them to get back. Loudly. Every time.
Thankfully, Elvis had one of those magical nights that rookie goalies dream about. The young man played the game of his life, stopping 36 of 37 shots.
While incredible, Jackie still yelled at Elvis to get back in the crease every time he skated behind the goal to play a puck.
What does this have to do with new hats? Well, Elvis wasn’t the only star of the game.
Defenseman Zach Werenski just happened to score three goals that night. A rare and lovely hat trick.
And when that third goal went in the net at 8:04 in the third period, I pulled my new hat from my head, cocked my arm and prepared to toss my lid to the ice.
That’s when Jackie caught my eye. “Really? Caroline just bought you that hat.” That’s true.
Besides, I’ve tossed four or five hats onto the ice over the years to celebrate these feats of hockey greatness. And it was chilly outside. Brr.
In the end, the Jackets won 4-1, Elvis and my wife got to celebrate a big win, and I kept my balding dome warm on the long walk to the car.
Have some free time this upcoming week? Wondering what to do, where to go or what to eat in downtown Columbus? Here is the Columbus Arena District Digest for the week of November 11, 2019:
Arena District Athletic Club Open House
November 11-14 | Arena District Athletic Club | 5 AM – 10 PM
Looking to join one of the best gyms in downtown Columbus? The Arena District Athletic Club—one of the city’s cleanest and most modern gyms—is holding an open house for prospective members today through Thursday! Any time between 5 AM and 10 PM, stop in, tour the facility, meet Club staff and enter to win tickets to a Blue Jackets home game. You will also receive a 10-day free trial membership and a Club t-shirt just for coming in. Click here to learn more.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. St. Louis Blues
Friday, November 15 | Nationwide Arena | 7:00 PM
Do you like the color blue? What about great hockey? If you answered yes to either of these questions, be sure to join us this at Nationwide Arena as we celebrate a matchup between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the first-place St. Louis Blues. Grab your tickets and bring your friends to this exciting game!
Monday, November 11 | EXPRESS LIVE! | 7:00 PM
Coming to the neighborhood tonight at EXPRESS LIVE!, it’s The Neighbourhood! This five-part California rock band makes its way to the Arena District for a night of music and melody, presented by Columbus’ alternative rock station, CD102.5. Opening the performance are musical artists, Claud and Slow Hollows. Grab your tickets here and don’t miss out on Monday’s exciting performance.
A$AP Ferg – Floor Seats Tour
Tuesday, November 12 | EXPRESS LIVE! | 7:00 PM
EXPRESS LIVE! welcomes hit rapper, A$AP Ferg, to the stage for a performance coming off his latest album, Floor Seats. Get tickets for this hot show before it sells out! Opening will be artists Murda Beatz and MadeinTYO, featured in A$AP Ferg’s song, Wam.
The Final Campaign: Slayer, Primus, Ministry, Philip H Anselmo
Tuesday, November 12 | Nationwide Arena | 6:00 PM
Tomorrow night, Slayer, the legendary thrash metal rock group—along with groups Primus, Ministry and Philip H Anselmo—will take center stage at Nationwide Arena for the last leg of The Final Campaign tour. This highly influential metal band wraps up the seventh and final leg of its farewell world tour, honoring the group’s 37 years of activity. Slayer experiences are known for their intense guitar hymns, heavy use of pyrotechnics and head-banging good times. Grab your tickets and be sure not to miss this legendary performance.
Team Tory Presents Ohio Combat League 4
Saturday, November 16 | EXPRESS LIVE! | 6:30 PM
Coming this Saturday to EXPRESS LIVE!—the Ohio Combat League! Watch a spectacle of dazzling mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting and see Ohio’s rising stars and veterans compete in a night of full contact sport. Grab your tickets for this event and be sure to check out these amazing fights!
Hot Chocolate 15K/5K
Sunday, November 17 | McFerson Commons Park | 7:30 AM
This Sunday starting at McFerson Commons Park in Columbus’ Arena District, warm up in the cold weather by participating in the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K! During the race, marshmallow sweet stations will be dotted along course routes—among other fun surprises. A Finisher Mug encourages the consumption of decadent fondue once you cross the finish line. Funds from the race will go to support Make-A-Wish Foundation. Click here to register.
What We’re Looking Forward To
Thursday, November 21 | EXPRESS LIVE! | 6:00 PM
Self-described evil disco group, Static-X, returns to the Columbus stage to perform for their first studio album in 11 years, “Project Regeneration,” set to release in 2020. The band, which will perform at EXPRESS LIVE! next Thursday, features a unique sound that mixes metal influences with electronic elements. The band will be accompanied by groups, Mushroomhead, Dope, Wednesday 13 and Raven Black. Get your tickets and don’t miss out on this night full of great music and performances.
Stay tuned for our next edition of Arena District Digest!
Nationwide Realty Investors has started work on a new office building and two new apartment buildings on the largest remaining vacant parcel at Grandview Yard, Nationwide’s 125-acre development north of Goodale Street and west of Rt. 315. When the two apartment buildings are completed, Grandview Yard will have almost 1,500 residences and more than 5,000 office workers.
Nationwide Realty Investors has started work on two apartment buildings and an office building on the largest remaining parcel at the Grandview Yard complex, the 125-acre development north of Goodale Boulevard and west of Rt. 315.
The new phase will add a three-story office building and a pair of four-story buildings containing a total of 218 apartments. They will rise on a vacant lot north of Burr Avenue between Rail and Yard streets.
“This is the biggest and most significant parcel left,” Nationwide Realty President Brian Ellis said.
The northern cusp of downtown is poised for a boom as multiple development projects converge in the next few years.
The plans are impressive in scope: Hundreds of millions of dollars in new development, hundreds of housing units and the city’s two newest high-rises will be built in the area between Nationwide Arena and I-670, where the booming Short North, growing downtown and nascent Arena District, Grandview Yard and Franklinton areas converge.
In fact, eight projects alone are in development promising $1 billion in investment.
“This urban area is as good as any city in America and there’s room to grow for the whole neighborhood,” said Michael Schiff, principal of Schiff Capital Group and one of the principals on the North Market mixed-use development, which has been in the works for years. “We’re lucky to have the growth we’ve had and it’s coming together.”
The developments come as a result of years of work on a series of projects that made the area of town favorable, including the continued build-out of Grandview Yard, the $140 million renovation of the Greater Columbus Convention Center and continued growth of downtown employers like Nationwide.
Here’s a rundown of what’s under construction and what’s planned in this part of downtown:
- The $220 million, 28-story Hilton Columbus Downtown tower along North High Street is set to break ground next month.
- The $192 million North Market tower project will construct an approximately 28-story tower at the North Market’s parking lot. It’ll have apartments, more market space and 90,000 square feet of offices.
- A $200 million expansion of the Arena District, on what are today gravel lots between Vine and Spruce streets. Details are still being worked out, but long-term plans could mean 500,000 square feet of office space. Chipotle’s headquarters would be the first anchor tenant in a 130,000-square-foot building.
- A $233 million new soccer stadium for the Columbus Crew SC, with substantial commercial and residential components expected around it.
- An $18 million, 650-space parking garage being constructed now on the other side of the convention center to open in February 2020.
- The Reach on Goodale, a 21-acre mixed-use development including a $65 million new headquarters for White Castle, is under development to the northwest as well. That site also includes a second office building, amphitheater and apartment complex. Developers say it’s intentionally designed to eliminate the “no man’s land” where Grandview and Arena District have been separated by highway, river and industrial corridors. The cost of the total development isn’t clear.
- The 13-story, $50 million Canopy by Hilton Columbus hotel at 77 W. Nationwide Blvd., which is fitting out now for an opening next month.
- An eight-story AC Hotel by Marriott is vertical now at 511 Park St. Building permits put construction at $30 million but fit-out costs are likely to drive the cost up.
It should also be noted that a host of nearby developments will undoubtedly contribute to the developments at this one-mile stretch, including the $200 million multi-phase Gravity project and the $240 million CoverMyMeds campus across the river in Franklinton; the 600-unit Jeffrey Park expansion with 12-story tower just to the north, and continued development in the Short North.
“It’s a confluence, and we feel good about it,” said Brian Ellis, COO of Nationwide Realty Investors Ltd., which has put over a billion dollars into the Arena District since it began in 1997.
828 at the Yard Condominiums features two-bedroom/two-bath flats ranging from 1,400-1,570 square feet, with the option to choose your own design selections or buy a finished condominium.
The Open House will feature The Anderson, fully furnished model. View all floor plans here.
Located in Grandview Heights, 828 at the Yard offers a short commute to surrounding neighborhoods like Upper Arlington, Marble Cliff, the Arena District and the Short North – providing endless opportunities to fill your days and nights.
Whistle & Keg, a self-service craft beer taproom, is anticipated to open this summer in the Moline Plow building in the Arena District at 343 N. Front Street.
The unique pour-your-own concept originated in Youngstown in 2017, where brothers and co-owners, Joe and Mike Thomas, opened their first location. They recently opened a second taproom in Cleveland to rave reviews, which inspired their expansion goals for Columbus. The brothers were drawn to the crowds and energy of the Arena District with a prime location overlooking Nationwide Arena, a block from Huntington Park, Express Live and the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
“The spotlight on the Arena District keeps getting brighter, and we’re excited to be a part of it,” said Thomas. “Whistle & Keg is a true tasting room, where people have the freedom to pour wine and mead and beer and cider from 50 different self-serve taps. Sports fans, concert goers, happy hour drinkers alike are going to love this concept. You pay for what you pour – try an ounce or pour a pint.”
The 2,500 square-foot taproom will showcase the original architectural features of the Moline Plow building built in 1913, which is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The interior features 12-foot-high ceilings with large bell-shaped columns throughout and an expansive outdoor patio overlooking Battelle Plaza and the arena. The basement-level of the building is occupied by Buca di Beppo (because the name in Italian roughly translates to “Joe’s basement”), which has been open since before the opening of Nationwide Arena.
“We’re excited to welcome Whistle & Keg to Columbus and the Arena District,” said Brian J. Ellis, President and COO of Nationwide Realty Investors, owner and developer of the Arena District. “This is the ideal space for the pour-your-own concept and will be a great addition to the District’s diverse mix of restaurants and entertainment amenities.”
“The pour-your-own technology used by Whistle & Keg is fun and simple for patrons to use,” said Thomas. “It’s very popular in some of the country’s hottest beer markets like Phoenix, Denver, Miami, and Tennessee. It will be impossible to resist in a market like Columbus.”
About Whistle & Keg: Whistle & Keg, based out of Youngstown, Ohio, is a taproom with a pour-your-own concept featuring 50 self-serve taps. The taproom has an open food policy allowing patrons to bring their favorite food or get food delivered while they enjoy a selection of local and regional craft beers, wines, ciders, mead, kombucha and more. Patrons can expect a fun and inviting atmosphere with live music, comedy, events and more. To learn more, go to www.whistlekeg.com.
Columbus Blue Jackets fans are likely still mourning the team’s Tuesday night loss to the Boston Bruins, a 3-0 defeat that ended Columbus’ hopes of hoisting the team’s first-ever Stanley Cup.
In times like these, nostalgia can prove to be a beautiful thing.
Throughout the Jackets’ playoffs series against the Bruins, Columbus Business First had a team of reporters and photographers on the ground, catching all of the action – both inside and outside of the arena.
We walked through the cobblestoned Arena District, catching glimpses of fans gearing up for the game, and went inside the arena to get photos of the games themselves. Check out the slideshows with this story to relive all the action.
To get even more on how the Blue Jackets’ historic playoff season could translate into big dollars, read this week’s cover story, which takes a look at the impact of the Jackets’ longest postseason run ever.
By Emily Bench – Staff reporter, Columbus Business First
Apr 18, 2019
It all started with a house party.
“I ran around with a lot of guys who were a couple of years older than us, and always went to all their parties,” said Scott Stienecker, a veteran concert promoter whose shows have wowed music fans in Columbus for decades. “And they were like, ‘You need to throw a party.’”
So the then 17-year-old from St. Marys in western Ohio rented the Tri-County Event Center on Memorial Day weekend in 1978, hired a Kiss-esque band and charged $3 at the door.
Stienecker made $1,080 that night and officially entered the rock and roll promotions business.
Over the next few decades, he built PromoWest Productions and saw it become the fifth-largest independent music production company in the United States, hosting hundreds of memorable shows at venues including the Newport, The Basement and Express Live.
But the years can do a number on people in the music business, both those on stage and behind it. And so last September, Stienecker cut a deal with Los Angeles-based AEG Presents, which acquired a majority stake in PromoWest for an undisclosed amount.
“You can’t escape the competition,” said Stienecker, who now is regional manager of the Midwest market for AEG Presents. “Every day, I have to fight for Columbus – I fight against Cleveland, I fight against Cincinnati in order to get acts.”
After 35 years, the fighting got to be too much.
“The main thing for me was age – I was 58,” he said. “If they’re going to (buy) me out in five years, I’ll be 63 and that’s a good time to retire. So it was kind of a matter of time.”
Now, Stienecker is working for ‘the man,’ just like many other once-independent music companies.
“These big dogs just keep picking off the smaller markets,” he said. “One at a time.”
A recent concert at the Newport Music Hall concert
The Newport Music Hall was the first venue owned by PromoWest Productions.
Rock ‘n’ roll all night
When Stienecker was 15, he saw Kiss perform at St. John Arena on the Ohio State University campus.
“It blew me away,” he said. “I remember I sat there thinking: ‘Who put this whole thing on?’”
After high school, Stienecker went to Bowling Green State University, where he studied business and marketing and joined the school’s concert committee. At the time, he wanted to be the next Jules Belkin, the Cleveland resident whose Belkin Productions put on shows at Richfield Coliseum, Blossom Music Center and other venues in the region. (The company has since become part of Live Nation.)
“He was God,” Stienecker said of Belkin. “I wanted to become that … but I didn’t know if it would be possible.”
He transferred to Ohio State his sophomore year and ultimately landed an internship with Bill Graham Presents out in California, which he said was a turning point for him. He learned from one of the most influential men in the business who ran mega-successful music halls in San Francisco and New York City.
Stienecker decided to stay in California, and was hired on as a secondary concert promoter for Parallax Productions. It was there that he heard in 1984 that Hank LoConti, who owned Agora clubs in Cleveland and Columbus, was looking to sell the High Street music hall and turn it into a Walgreens.
Stienecker returned to Ohio and pleaded with him.
“I said, ‘Hank, you can’t let this happen,’” he said. “And he said he would lease it to me if I could come up with $25,000.”
Instead, the 22-year-old raised $180,000 and bought the building, turning it into the Newport Music Hall.
The first show he booked as PromoWest was Neil Young, who played a sold-out show at the Newport on Sept. 9, 1984.
It didn’t take long for PromoWest to grow. Stienecker built his brand by creating popular clubs including Polaris Amphitheater, The Basement and the A&R Music Bar, while selling out shows at Ohio Stadium and buying the Bunbury Music Festival in 2015.
“It took a while and there were growing pains,” he said. “We started as a one-man show of a little independent, and grew into almost 60 full-time employees and 750 shows a year.”
Perhaps Stienecker’s biggest contribution was building the first-of-its-kind indoor/outdoor venue LC Pavilion in 2001. (It’s now Express Live.)
Stienecker said that site flipped the model of a music venue on its head. Soon, people across the country began to call, asking him to take his concept to other cities. He turned them all down until a developer in Pittsburgh called. The two created Stage AE, the second indoor/outdoor music venue in the nation.
“We figured it out,” he said. “It was like a light bulb went off.”
Express Live up close and backstage
Scott Stienecker’s Express Live indoor/outdoor stage changed the way concerts could be promoted and shown. Other venues immediately began to copy PromoWest’s formula after the site opened in 2001.
Randy Malloy, general manager of local alt-rock radio station 102.5, said Stienecker is an innovator.
“Scott is someone that has really really taken concert promoting to the next level,” Malloy said. “He takes the risks on bands that aren’t there yet, who haven’t made a big, and once they do, they come back.
“They remember Columbus because of him.”
Malloy said a good example is the band Jungle, which had trouble selling 60 tickets to a show in Chicago in 2014.The next stop on the band’s tour was Columbus.
Stienecker threw everything he had at promoting the show.
When the Jungle played the Newport, 800 people were there to see them.The band, which has toured the world, returned to Columbus in 2018 for another show at the Newport.
In many ways, the evolution of the music business has been hard for Stienecker to accept.
“What I loved … the most was the old days, when rock and roll was just rock and roll,” he said. “I miss when it was raw and real and there were local promoters in every market.
“Now, it’s very corporate.”
Live Nation was founded in 1996, grew quickly and started taking bites out of smaller markets. The publicly traded company had $10.8 billion in revenue last year.
AEG Presents was founded five years later and also began to move into smaller, independent markets.
“Once Live Nation came, the whole industry changed,” Stienecker said. “People are more focused on the bottom line than they are developing the acts.”
It takes time and a local interest to do that. Stienecker created spaces where small and local artists could play, moving up to bigger venues as they grew. That’s what worked for Twenty One Pilots and O.A.R., he said.
“They can move up from The Basement, to A&R, to the Newport and then to Express Live,” he said.
“We take the acts and develop them from the ground up.”
JUST ANNOUNCED! A new townhome product will join the diverse mix of residential offerings at Grandview Yard. Three independent, side-by-side buildings, called “The Junction” will be comprised of 20 two-story townhome residences with walk-ups along Bobcat Avenue. The buildings will feature a refined brick façade, elevated balconies, private garages, and market-leading interior finishes. Townhome residents will have access to The Yard Club, our residential amenity building and club house that featurs a resort style swimming pool and spa, fitness center, and community room, as well as our significant mix of retail, dining, and fitness offerings, First Avenue Park and green spaces.
“Creating a great neighborhood isn’t just about the construction of individual buildings. It’s about generating a vision that brings complementary elements together where the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts. As Grandview Yard continues to grow, we’re able to provide an even more engaging mixed-use environment for our office tenants and residents, and deliver a thriving development for this community.”
There are tons of exciting events and things to do in downtown Columbus’ Arena District. From sporting events and concerts at Nationwide Arena to community gatherings and family-friendly festivals, each week welcomes a wide variety of experiences.
With so much going on in the Arena District, deciding what to do and where to go can lead to information overload. To help you narrow down your choices, we’re offering the inside scoop on the top upcoming events in downtown Columbus each week.
Here is your Columbus Arena District Digest for the week of December 3, 2018:
WNCI Jingle Jam
Tuesday, December 4 | EXPRESS LIVE! | 6 PM
Columbus’ Hit Music station, 97.9 WNCI, is hosting their holiday concert at EXPRESS LIVE! The show features boyband, Why Don’t We, and other hit singers such as Madison Beer, Bryce Vine, Lauv, Round2Crew and Ava Max. The more acts the merrier, check out these talented artists all in one show presented by WNCI on December 4th.
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Calgary Flames
Tuesday, December 4 | Nationwide Arena | 7 PM
In the mood for a cool Tuesday night? Head to Nationwide Arena as the Blue Jackets take on The Calgary Flames. March With Us as we root on the Jackets at home in their bid to claim the top standing in their division.
Harmony Project – The Concert for US
Thursday, December 6 | Nationwide Arena | 7:30 PM
Harmony Project connects people across social divides through the arts and education by joining together to engage in equal harmony. This concert is presented by Kind Columbus in effects to foster creative collaborations to better our community. The show will feature Joshuah Brian Campbell, Momentum Excellence and the Columbus Children’s Choir. Support the Concert for US on December 6th at Nationwide Arena.
Friday, December 7 | Arena District | 7 PM
For those counting down the days until Christmas, it’s almost here! Spread your holiday cheer and join hundreds of Santa’s, Elves and Reindeer hopping around the Arena District for SantaCon Columbus 2018! The free event includes four drink stops (Half Pint, Gordon Biersch, The Big Bang and Three-Legged Mare) featuring drink specials, raffle prices, costume contest and more.
CD102.5 Holiday Show: Side A
Friday, December 7 | EXPRESS LIVE! | 6 PM
Alternative station, CD102.5 is hosting their holiday concert on Friday, December 7th. The show will be headlined by The Struts and features other acts including Albert Hammond Jr, Just Loud and RADATTACK. Get your jingle bell “rock” on at EXPRESS LIVE!
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Washington Capitals
Saturday, December 8 | Nationwide Arena | 7 PM
Get on your Blue Jackets gear and cheer the team on this Saturday night at Nationwide Arena. The Columbus Blue Jackets are taking on 2018 Stanley Cup Champions, The Washington Capitals in a game you won’t want to miss. Puck drops at 7 PM.
Post CBJ Show featuring Willie Phoenix
Saturday, December 8 | A&R Music Bar | 8 PM
Willie Phoenix’s career has spanned decades and his passion never stops. Phoenix plays sounds ranging from haunting blues, straight forward rock, garage band noise to psychedelic fusion. He has a special place in his heart for blues and also Columbus! Check him out at A&R Music Bar on December 8th.
CD102.5 Holiday Show: Side B
Sunday, December 9 | EXPRESS LIVE! | 6 PM
Arena District Apartment of the Week
Flats on Vine Apartments | Mendocino Floor Plan
Flats on Vine Apartments are located minutes away from the top entertainment and food destinations in downtown Columbus. If you’re looking to get the best city experience possible, then living here is a no-brainer.
The Mendocino floor plan features everything you need and more! This 2-bed, 2-bathroom includes a spacious living/kitchen area, large closets and private balcony. Flats on Vine Apartments are pet friendly, include a fitness center, outdoor pool and spa, in-unit washer/dryer, valet dry cleaning and more!
Schedule a tour of Flat on Vine’s Mendocino unit today!
Arena District Giveaway of the Week
CD102.5 Holiday Show Side A and B tickets | EXPRESS LIVE! | December 7 & 9
We’re giving away two pairs of tickets to see CD102.5’s Holiday Show Side A AND Side B at EXPRESS LIVE! Enter now for the chance to win and increase your chances by getting your friends to enter, too. Two winners will be chosen later this week.