Two monumental sporting events collided Saturday afternoon as the Columbus Clippers played the inaugural game in Huntington Park only hours before the Columbus Blue Jackets dropped the puck for the second playoff game in team history.

Two monumental sporting events collided Saturday afternoon as the Columbus Clippers played the inaugural game in Huntington Park only hours before the Columbus Blue Jackets dropped the puck for the second playoff game in team history.

Neither outcome was good - the Clippers lost to the Toledo Mud Hens, 3-1, and the Jackets crumbled against the Detroit Red Wings, 4-0. But the excitement that overtook the Arena District was a clear sign the city's sports season doesn't start in September on Campus.

If it wasn't the best sports weekend in Columbus history, it was pretty darn close, said Mike Hard, who stayed with several hundred Opening Day fans to watch the hockey game on Huntington's scoreboard screen.

Hard has purchased Clippers season tickets every year since 1977 and also has a full package to the Blue Jackets. As much as he loved Cooper Stadium, which hosted its final game Sept. 1, Hard is glad both of his teams are now headquartered a block apart.

"It was time to move," he said. "We have bars, nightlife, a reason to stay Downtown. I wish the Crew would move down here."

Soccer's up north for now, but a strong sporting vibe has taken shape within home-run distance of Downtown. On Tuesday night, so many people were expected to flock to Nationwide Boulevard that the Clippers game was bumped up a half-hour to accommodate the Blue Jackets' return to Columbus.

"I think [the park] will really be a centerpiece for Downtown," said Brad Hubbard of Grandview, who lived in Oklahoma City during a similar urban redevelopment project centered around a minor-league park. "It's much better than I expected."

Others agreed that the combined strength of Huntington Park and Nationwide Arena is giving new life to the city's core - and its fans.

"The urban nature is really nice. People associate [the ballpark] more with Columbus," said Rick Lindenmuth, who works Downtown. "There's something about having baseball that reenergizes the entire Downtown."

Double booked

Tonight the Clippers will face the Indianapolis Indians at 6:05 p.m. Across the street, the Jackets will attempt to avoid elimination from the Detroit Red Wings at 7 p.m. To get a guaranteed parking space, use the Click and Park online reservation system available at ArenaDistrictParking.com.

Upcoming Clippers promotions

The Columbus Clippers continue their home stand against the Indianapolis Indians. Here are some enticing offers.

6:05 p.m. Thursday, April 23

Quencher Corner features food and drink specials at the AEP Power Pavilion

7:05 p.m. Friday, April 24

Party-at-the-Park features live music from Agent 99 and food and drink specials

7:05 p.m. Saturday, April 25

Party-at-the-Park features live music from Marquis 66 and food and drink specials

1:05 p.m. Sunday, April 26

Family Day features a post-game lap around the bases and a special ticket package - general admission tickets for two adults and up to four kids for $15

Click to the A-List at ColumbusAlive.com to search hundreds of local sporting events