Loud And Proud

As the Columbus Blue Jackets have moved forward in the NHL playoffs, there’s been a lot of buzz at the national level about how loud the crowd is during home games at Nationwide Arena.  Between the cannon blasts and the screaming fans, the consensus is that the home crowd gives the CBJ a decided home ice advantage.  My friends who have gone to some of the playoff games — to the extent their ringing ears allow them to understand human speech at all — have confirmed that yes, it’s loud.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Tampa Bay Lightning at Columbus Blue JacketsA story in the local press offered some scientific evidence of just how loud Nationwide Arena has been.  Using a decibel meter to measure the noise level, the article reported that it was 98 decibels — about the noise level of a snowmobile — before the most recent playoff game even started, the noise increased to 111 decibels (chainsaw level) when the teams took the ice, and the pandemonium topped out at 118 decibels (just about the noise of an ambulance siren passing by) when the game ended and the Blue Jackets took home a victory to move into a 2-1 series lead against the Boston Bruins.

It’s pretty impressive, but it’s worth pointing out that the Nationwide Arena fans are still far off the loudest crowd noise ever recorded at a sports event — 142 decibels, during a 2014 NFL playoff game in Kansas City.  That level of deafening noise might be out of reach, but for game 4 of the Boston series, tonight, Blue Jackets fans are aiming to get up to 125 decibels, which is about the level of a jackhammer.

It’s all very interesting to me, because I’m learning something new about my fellow Columbusites.  I wouldn’t say that Columbus sports fans are a sit-on-their-hands group, but I also haven’t thought of them as a raucous mob capable of producing a constant, pulsating ear-splitting din in support of their hometown teams.  Apparently I’ve been wrong all these years — it’s just taken a little NHL playoff run to up the uproar level and bring out the bedlam.

Going to Nationwide Arena for one of these games would be a great experience, but be sure to bring your earplugs.

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Big Dance, Meet Columbus

Columbus gets some first-hand exposure to March Madness this weekend, as the NCAA Tournament comes to town.

Four games will be played today in Nationwide Arena, and the winners will match up in two games on Sunday.  Among the teams who will be playing are Michigan State, Georgetown, North Carolina State, and Memphis, so we’ll be seeing lots of Spartan green — well-time for St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow — Hoya blue, and Wolfpack red, among other school colors, over the next few days.  I’ve already noticed fans of the some of the teams, proudly wearing their gear, in the downtown area.

It’s great to have NCAA Tournament games played in Columbus.  It’s good for the local economy, good for our fair city’s national visibility, and good for local sports fans who just want to see some top-flight college basketball.  Unfortunately, it’s a rainy day today — but because the games will be played indoors, we’ll hope that the showers don’t dampen anyone’s enthusiasm for their visit.  Have fun, folks, and come back again!

Bob Seger At Nationwide Arena, November 4, 2011

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band perform Sunspot Baby

Last night Kish and I and a group of friends — stoked by a massive, family-style meal from nearby Buca di Beppo — watched Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band rock out Nationwide Arena in Columbus.  Seger is an old pro who knows how to please a crowd, and he and his bandmates put on a high-quality show that delighted a close-to-full house.

Seger and the band, featuring long-time saxophonist Alto Reed, pumped out a huge sound.  In two sets separated by a brief intermission, Seger faithfully performed most of his greatest hits, and they play well in a large arena.  Highlights of the first set included The Fire Down Below — which really got the crowd cranked up for the rest of the show — Feel Like A Number, and Old Time Rock & Roll as well as an early Christmas treat:  The Little Drummer Boy.  The second set featured Sunspot Baby, Her Strut (written about Jane Fonda, Seger explained), Turn the Page, and a rousing, bring-down-the-house rendition of Katmandu that closed the show.  Seger and the band then performed two encores, ending the evening with Night Moves and Rock & Roll Never Forgets.

Seger still has a lot of energy, and he moved from side to side on the stage, pumping his fists to the music and engaging in a number of call and response interactions with the audience.  He might not be able to reach all of the highest notes, but Seger still seems to be in good voice — although at times it was hard to tell, because the fired-up members of the audience happily sang every word of every song right along with him.  At times I wasn’t sure whether I was hearing more of Seger or the beer-swilling biker to my right — but then, I sang along with a few of the songs myself.

Seger has a devoted cadre of fans who’ve seen him perform many times.  After watching him deliver a fine show at Nationwide Arena, you can understand why.

The CBJ And The Arena District Deal

Columbus’ Arena District is one of the rapidly growing areas of the city.  The district is home to Nationwide Arena, where the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets play and rock concerts and other special events are held, as well as apartments, condominiums, offices, restaurants, bars, and Huntington Park, the home field of the Columbus Clippers.  It’s an area that is bustling with activity, day and night.

The only dark cloud on the horizon is that the Blue Jackets are struggling financially, and there is concern that the franchise might leave for greener (or in the case of the NHL, snowier) pastures and a better deal that provides them with more revenue.  Columbus leaders worry that if the arena’s anchor tenant leaves, the Arena District might wither on the vine.  So, a long-term deal has been worked out.  Columbus and Franklin County pledge a share of taxes to be produced by the not yet opened Columbus casino to buy and operate the arena — the total contribution over 27 years is expected to approach $250 million — and in exchange the Blue Jackets get to use the arena rent-free and promise to stay in Columbus until 2039.  Although local politicians and community leaders all seem to support the deal, some people are opposed.  They want the casino tax revenues used for other purposes, and they object to the fact that the deal won’t be put before local voters.

I think most people in the Columbus area are proud of the Arena District and will support the arrangement.  It sure would help, however, if the Blue Jackets were a better team, generated more excitement and attendance, and made the playoffs.  It will be a lot easier for the people of Columbus to swallow the cost of supporting a perennial Stanley Cup contender than a perennial also-ran.

Last night the NHL season began, and the Blue Jackets opened with a game at Nationwide Arena against the Nashville Predators.  The CBJ lost, 3-2.

Mean Mean Pride

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I saw RUSH in concert at Nationwide Arena on Sunday night and it was the best concert I have ever seen in person. I happened to see them years ago when I was younger, but I felt like this time around they were wayyyyyyy better. 

I loved the fact that they pretty much played all of their hit songs during the three hours they were on stage and really gave everyone their money’s worth. Looks like this Columbus Dispatch concert reviewer agreed with me.

Our seats at Nationwide Arena were in the first row of the upper deck straight back from the stage so we had full view of the amazing light show, shooting fire and fireworks. Of course it wouldn’t have been a concert if I didn’t have a rather rotund gentleman sitting next to me spill water on me.

Their second set started with Tom Sawyer and they followed that up with Limelight followed by all of the songs on their 1981 Moving Pictures album. The thing I always liked about RUSH was not only the beat, but the words to their songs.

Man oh man that Geddy Lee can still hit the high notes. Not to mention Alex Lifeson’s unbelievable guitar work and Neil Peart’s drum solo. The concert was well worth it and I highly recommend going to see RUSH if they are coming to an arena near you !