That's what has happened since the Columbus Blue Jackets started playing hockey in the fall of 2000 on the site of the old state penitentiary in downtown Columbus.
In the two decades since, Columbus has transformed from one of the state's best-kept secrets to one of the nation's fastest-growing, innovative and diverse communities. Our city has become a burgeoning metropolis of more than two million people … one of America's largest cities with its own major league sports franchise to call home.
While the city has grown and flourished, so have the Blue Jackets. What began as an expansion franchise in a new millennium, Ohio's only National Hockey League team has become a perennial competitor for the most storied trophy in professional sports … the Stanley Cup.
And as the team approaches its third decade, the time is right to take a deeper look at the bond between the team, its fans and the city. An exploration of where we've been, where we are and where we want to go. On Opening Night, the Blue Jackets introduced #OutOfOurBlue. It's more than a slogan, it's a belief. It's a description of what this organization believes, what it is and what it aspires to be.
Out of Our Blue. We Rise. It's a nod to the fact that supporting the Blue Jackets is unlike anything else in sports, with fans owning a language and a shared history all their own. No one has to explain who Leo is or where the cannon is for a meetup or why three goals means a chant for chili.
From Bruce Gardiner's first goal to the historic sweep of Tampa Bay in the spring of 2019, the memories are held in the collective conscience of the city and its fans. There's "The Goal" by Rick Nash and Nick Foligno's overtime winner, memories of Jody Shelley and Jared Boll, dominant victories and OT thrillers, the 2015 NHL All-Star Game. There is a civic pride that has become an essential part of living in one of the nation's top communities.
You see the names and the history of those that have worn the red, white and blue on the ice at Nationwide Arena. Rick Nash. Fedor Tyutin. Rostislav Klesla. David Vyborny. Tyler Wright. RJ Umberger. Scott Hartnell. Seth Jones. Cam Atkinson. Nick Foligno.
"It's an honor to wear that sweater," Atkinson said this fall, and players like Atkinson and those who came before have forged a history that "Out of Our Blue" captures. It's the passion, enthusiasm and excitement that comes with a night at Nationwide Arena.
And that's not limited to a great in-arena atmosphere.
It means venturing to the Arena District, one of the most impressive urban development projects in the country, a bridge from Columbus' downtown to its Short North and university districts.
From there, it's excitement that doesn't end, from the first cannon blast to the final horn. The world's best athletes are on display, and Columbus is taking on all comers.
It all came from a vision that John H. McConnell, and a small group of community leaders, had to bring one of North America's four major league sports franchises to the city. Mr. Mac had the foresight many others did not. He knew what Columbus had been, but he also saw what Columbus has become.
The Blue Jackets and the city of Columbus have grown together and developed a strong bond that transcends what happens on the ice. The Blue Jackets have helped redefine what it means to be from Columbus. The organization's commitment to the community, along with the work of the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, continue to improve lives throughout Central Ohio. The club's efforts to build hockey from the ground up have resulted in an NHL breeding ground on par with other major cities.
Out of Our Blue, a whole new Columbus has grown. Out of Our Blue, a franchise has risen. Our of Our Blue, the best is yet to come.