Photo of the cannon display at Nationwide Arena, home of the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

Image Credit: Doug Kerr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Columbus Blue Jackets’ cannon debuted at Nationwide Arena during the 2007 NHL season. The Columbus Blue Jackets’ franchise name was chosen in 1997 as the winner of a region-wide “name the team” contest. The name “Columbus Justice” was the runner-up. “Blue Jackets” is in reference to the color of the coats worn by the Union Army and pays homage to the major contributions the state of Ohio made during the Civil War. A decade later, the Columbus Blue Jackets organization was looking for ways to build upon its identity. The Blue Jackets were still a very young franchise at the time.

Former Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock was also a Civil War buff and helped revive the notion of the team purchasing a cannon similar to those used during the Civil War era. After an internet search, Columbus Blue Jackets in-game announcer Mike Todd and a colleague (Kimberly Kershaw) caught a quick flight to St. Louis, Missouri. They then drove to nearby Pontoon Lake, Illinois where they met with Chris Olson of South Bend Replica Cannons. Following a demonstration of the cannon using cannonball powder, the two (and Larry Hoepfner on the phone) were immediately sold on the cannon and purchased it from Olson for $20,000.

The cannon used at Nationwide Arena is a replica of an 1857 Napolean cannon and can be found at the top of section 111 during every home game. Black Wing Shooting Center in Delaware, Ohio helps maintain the cannon throughout the calendar year. The cannon first debuted on October 5, 2007 and uses a pyrotechnic charge which is what enables the cannon to be fired indoors. The pyrotechnic charge is supplied by Hamburg Fireworks Display of Lancaster, Ohio and causes noise that is equivalent to a jet flyover at 1,000 feet. However, most people do not know that the cannon’s noise is projected over the arena’s sound system and is loud no matter what section fans are seated in. The cannon is fired prior to each home game, each time the Columbus Blue Jackets score on the ice, and following each victory. The firing of the cannon has a long history of startling unexpecting people inside Nationwide Arena; even opposing players down on the ice. Many opposing teams and players have publicly expressed their hate for the cannon at Nationwide Arena. 

Columbus Blue Jackets fans are able to have their picture taken with the cannon at various times throughout Columbus Blue Jackets home games. Fans in the area will often be greeted by Kyle Arnott; a member of the “Cannon Crew” who informs people about the cannon’s history. The 1857 Napolean cannon is now as much a part of the Columbus Blue Jackets franchise as the yellow towels are to the Pittsburgh Steelers. A cannon is now even featured on the team's "third" or alternate jersey.


Related Articles