The semiprivate board created to manage publicly owned Nationwide Arena says it will hold at least one public meeting per year, but it still plans to operate mostly in private as part of an agreement with Columbus and Franklin County officials.
The four board members of Columbus Arena Management, or CAM, met privately on Wednesday for the first time to sign the operating policy, 10 months after canceling their initial meeting because Mayor Michael B. Coleman, county commissioners and county Prosecutor Ron O’Brien rejected their plan to meet in private.
The board agreed to hold one open meeting a year, most likely in June, to discuss and vote on Nationwide Arena’s operating budget. The board also agreed to hire an accounting firm to audit the arena’s finances.
Coleman said yesterday through his spokesman that the new policy is “significant progress” compared with CAM’s original desires, though he said “it falls short” of his expectations for transparency.
Until this week, attorneys for Nationwide Realty Investments and Ohio State University — two of the four entities with representatives on the board — had included language in the policy to allow future CAM board members to make the board completely private.
Coleman and county Administrator Don Brown balked at that idea, and the language was deleted.
But Coleman and county officials didn’t get everything they sought. They wanted CAM to operate as a public board and go into executive session to discuss major acquisitions or business deals, as is permitted by state law.
CAM maintains, however, that it is a private entity and will meet in private when it deems appropriate, said Xen Riggs, the arena’s chief operating officer.