In November 1996, five investors formed a partnership called Columbus Hockey Limited, who then submitted an application and a $100,000 fee to the NHL office. The voters of Columbus were considering a referendum to build a publicly financed arena, a major step toward approval of their NHL bid. When League Commissioner Gary Bettman visited Columbus to meet with the community’s leaders about the franchise proposal, there was concern that the voters might not pass the needed referendum. The civic leaders told Bettman that they would not be willing to foot the bill for the team if the referendum failed. However, just after the meeting adjourned, John H. McConnell (one of those who entered the bid) privately guaranteed Bettman that an arena would be built, referendum or not.