Pitches for convincing the next sports star to remain in Columbus

Last January, as Blue Jackets star Artemi Panarin flirted with free agency, High Bank Distillery put up a clever billboard ad near Nationwide Arena: “Hey Panarin, stick with Columbus and enjoy free High Bank for life.” Panarin called it brilliant on Instagram. His agent tweeted, “That’s a start.”

But endless liquor wasn’t enough to woo him. In July, Panarin signed with the New York Rangers, who also poached president of hockey operations John Davidson. Adding massive insult to injury, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky decided to take his talents to the Florida Panthers on the same day Panarin joined the Rangers, who will visit Columbus for the first time since his departure on Dec. 5.

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The exodus begs the question: If limitless booze couldn’t close the deal, then what can keep top athletes from being lured away by the bright lights of bigger markets? These pitches just might do the trick.

A Superstar SmartLane: Enjoy hassle-free trips to the airport on your own private I-670. Tax abatements for buying Bobrovsky’s 5,474-square-foot Downtown penthouse, which is still on the market for a mere $2.95 million A state-of-the-art stadium for your team (only valid if there’s a competing offer from Austin) For the city’s “amateur” talent, capitalize on the NCAA’s exciting new “profit from your own name and likeness” program by plastering building-sized ads featuring star Buckeyes across town A political future via a seat on Columbus City Council—no initial election required As Columbus wrestles with its namesake’s ugly past, an athletic rebrand could solve two problems at once. Welcome to Seth Jonesboro, Ohio!

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