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Nationwide Arena Construction

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From 1998 to 2000, Nationwide Realty Investors, the real estate development affiliate of Nationwide and nationally recognized as one of the country’s leading developers of large, complex, mixed-use projects, constructed the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.  This multi-million-dollar project was only the third owner-controlled-insurance-project (OCIP) the state of Ohio had ever authorized.


With over 111 contractors from across the nation, 3,100 workers and 1.5 million man-hours, Nationwide Arena project was a unique incubator for owner-required drug-free operations.  Ohio has a state-run system for workers’ compensation.  Because of that, Nationwide had to petition the State of Ohio to grant them owner-controlled insurance status and assemble the insurance underwriting companies.  At the start of construction, several million dollars were projected as what the pay-outs would be for workplace injuries.  Nationwide knew that focusing on safety and operating a drug-free environment would be key to keeping those costs down and sought an effective process to accomplish those objectives.

What Working Partners® did:

  • Developed a system to review and authorize the drug-free workplace programs of all subcontractors applying to work on the arena project.
  • Verified all workers were drug tested against qualifying specifications either by their employers or by the arena project once they came to work.
  • Created supporting documents and processes to be used on the job to help with the program’s operations.
  • Established accountability and billing systems associated with the tasks to maintain drug-free workers on the construction project.
  • Conducted education and training courses for all employees and supervisors and provided companies with toolbox talks to keep employees informed about the dangers alcohol use and drug misuse can pose on the job.


  • Pay-outs for accidents and workers’ compensation were less than $400,000 over the lifetime of the project – well below both the projected amount of $2,000,000 and their cap of $5,000,000.
  • Nationwide Realty Investors extended the substance-free workplace requirements beyond the Nationwide Arena to the entire, multi-block downtown Columbus construction project, which includes major retail, theater, residential and industrial areas that were under construction for several years.


  • We credit our on-site safety manager and our drug-free workplace requirements with keeping our accident costs down.

    Jim Rost, VP of Development and Construction
    Nationwide Realty Investors, Ltd.