Could Columbus Become the New Pittsburgh?


The Blue Jackets are 22-20-5

The Blue Jackets are 22-20-5

We were originally thinking of titling this “Could Columbus Become the New Buffalo?” but we realized we were being a bit hasty, since the two markets are a bit different.  Columbus is a little larger, and Buffalo just has hockey ingrained in it’s culture like so few other cities in the United States, it’d be unfair to both sets of fans to think Columbus could possibly match the kind of euphoria and ratings the Sabres produce.

But is there a chance that the Jackets could develop a following akin to say, the Penguins have in Pittsburgh if they start flexing their playoff muscle?  

The one thing all the bloggers who went to the 2007 draft in Columbus couldn’t stop telling us was “If Columbus can get it’s act together, this city will go nuts for them”.  We certainly believed them, as the Jackets had always drawn good crowds.  A former PR person from the NHL once told me, in response to my question of why the Blue Jackets were being placed on the NBC schedule so much, “You’d be surprised if you looked at the ratings.  They’re very good.”

Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch agrees that Columbus is headed for TV stardom, as he writes:

But numbers don’t do justice to what has been happening in dens, family rooms and living rooms around town. In the month of January, ratings have averaged 2.11, up from 1.42 in December and 1.11 in October, the first month of the season. A game Jan. 2 at Colorado, when the Jackets had their first meeting with traitorous former captain Adam Foote, drew a 2.91 rating, second this season to the Calgary game. Even the rematch with the Avalanche on Jan. 13 drew a 2.18, and Foote, who demanded a trade to Colorado last year while the Jackets were still in the playoff race, didn’t even play.

The numbers seem to say a couple of things: Local fans have noticed that this year’s team is better than last year’s squad, which competed hard but lacked the depth of talent to be in the race, and they’re increasingly interested in the good story lines (Benedict Foote), strong opponents (Calgary) and players worth watching (Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, whose Capitals drew a 2.35 rating).

If form holds true, the best ratings are going to come after the All-Star break. And if this team continues to trend upward, we might soon discover what a lot of people said nine years ago:

If the Blue Jackets ever have a good team, this is going to be one heck of a hockey market.

Amen for CBJ and their fans.  The NHL could use another solid mid-size market team, akin to Pittsburgh or even Buffalo, and they may have found it in the Blue Jackets.  Now, if only they could get them to the Eastern Conference…

One Response to Could Columbus Become the New Pittsburgh?

  1. John says:

    Nationwide Arena also televises really well. The angle that the cameras have in that arena really give the viewer a great sense of the size of the players, the speed of the game, and the old excuse for not watching a hockey on tv is appropriate. The puck, on that ice, looks like what the producers of NHL on FOX likely imagined what fox trax would become. Also, there is a major D1 college team, so fans can actually track a players development from Freshman year to the pros. And, you can’t forget how columbus embraces the MLS. If an MLS team can find success in a market, there is no reason why the NHL can’t/

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