Nationwide Arena was built near the site of the former Ohio Penitentiary, which had an eastern border of West Street. The arena itself is built over the prison's former parking lot. The arena's parking lot and an apartment complex are built where the prison formerly stood. The arena was constructed in 2000.
On March 16, 2002, 13-year-old Brittanie Cecil was struck in the head by a deflected puck during the Blue Jackets' game against the Calgary Flames at Nationwide Arena. She died two days later, becoming the only NHL fan to be killed in a game-related accident. As a result of her death, the NHL mandated safety netting in all its arenas.
In May 2012, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman made a pitch to the National Basketball Association (NBA) requesting an expansion or relocated team be moved to Nationwide Arena.