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Nationwide Arena

Columbus, OH

Home of the Columbus Blue Jackets

4.4

3.3

Nationwide Arena (map it)
200 W Nationwide Blvd
Columbus, OH 43215


Columbus Blue Jackets website

Nationwide Arena website

Year Opened: 2000

Capacity: 18,500

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Built for Hockey in Columbus

The Nationwide Arena opened for business on September 9, 1999; it was the city’s first true modern sports arena and it has not disappointed being considered by many as one of the finest venues to watch a National Hockey League game.

The home of the Columbus Blue Jackets brought the league back to the state of Ohio for the first time since 1978 and the 18,500-seat venue has been the catalyst for rebuilding a section of town now known as The Arena District. The district contains a multitude of restaurants and bars, a movie theater, concert theater, and a minor league ballpark.

The cost of construction was $175 million and the venue is also home to various other sporting and concert events that come through the Ohio capital. However, its primary tenant since opening has been the Blue Jackets. In other words, this building was built for hockey first.

4.4

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    5

Nationwide Arena offers 41 areas for food and beverage on both the main and upper concourses. The options are plentiful and exists of Cincinnati-style chili, smoked meats, pizza, cheesesteaks, poutine, and various craft beers. Hopefully, this review will be able to highlight a few of the delicacies.

The Smokehouse is located on the Bud Light Terrace of the main concourse, but just follow the scent of the large strips of thick cut bacon being cooked on an open griddle for all to witness. The aroma is a delightful and affordable at $5.50 a stick. If you favor pulled pork or brisket, they offer combos with chips and mac and cheese for $12.

Located near by in the same area is the West Side Grille that serves up speciality burgers that include the 1837 with brisket and pimento cheese on Texas toast for $13 or visit the Northside Grill locations (main concourse 105/222) for the Buffalo chicken box consisting of fries, Buffalo chicken sausage, and blue cheese crumbles or poutine for $11 a piece.

If you are looking for a beer, the arena features large drafts for $9 and cans for $10.50 of domestic specialities (Budweiser and Yuengling). The Arch City Ale stand pours drafts at either $9 or $13 of Ohio craft brews from Jackie O's, Land Grant, and Zauber. If you are not a beer fan, wine is served for $8, and mix drinks cost between $9 and $10. Pepsi products and Tim Horton's coffee are served at the arena.

Atmosphere    4

The atmosphere begins at one of the many bars outside the arena where Blue Jackets fans gather for food and drink, soon they make the short walk over to the arena. Once inside the arena, fans are delighted to wide open concourses that provide open views of the ice from standing room only sections.

One of the open sections is where the 1857 cannon resides; it goes off when the Jackets take the ice, the team scores, or after a victory. It is in a roped off area, but fans can take photos and read a little about its history on nearby posters. When it goes off, the area smells of gunpowder.

There is also a lot of history on the concourses for the club that has yet to celebrate its 20th anniversary. There are two areas that detail the birth of the franchise and its 10th anniversary, complete with jerseys and other paraphernalia. There is also a third area filled with caps highlighting the 18 hat tricks that took place in team history.

The team mascot Stinger is seen from time to time in the arena in multiple places and so are the Blue Jackets Ice Crew who are a group of young ladies who are seen on the ice and also in the stands throughout the night.

Neighborhood    5

The Nationwide Arena is the centerpiece of The Arena District that offers mix-used plan development of residential and retail space.There are more than 22 different eateries and bars located within a few steps of the building that are hopping before and after the game.

The R Bar is the official hockey bar that sits across the small pedestrian bridge offering 16 beers on tap and 32 bottles and cans. Gordon Biersch Brewery and Restaurant and Three-Legged Mare are also in this area providing outdoor seating and plenty of people watching. If you are with the kids, Boston's Pizza (hugely popular in Canada) and Ted's Montana Grille are two nearby choices. Also, be sure to check out the $4 local pints at BD's Mongolian Grill before the game during happy hour..

Studio Movie Grill is located across the street from the arena and just a block away is the home of the Columbus Clippers Huntington Park. The indoor and outdoor concert venue Express! Live and A&R Music Bar are located next to the ballpark. The Arena District also houses three hotels: The Lofts, Hyatt Regency, and Crowne Plaza.

Almost everything one needs is located in this district of Columbus, making it one of best areas for entertainment within walking distance in the NHL.

Fans    4

Columbus enjoys a winner and when your team is over the 100 point threshold and battling for the top spot in the conference, fans are going to come out in droves. The team is currently selling out its arena at an 87% accuracy and will sell out when rivals Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Chicago are in town and on weekend dates.

Many in attendance don a Blue Jackets jersey or cap, a few more talk about hockey over a few drinks at one of the nearby bars to the arena, and others cheer in unison every time the team scores or makes a big hit on the ice. If the team continues its winning ways, don't be surprised to see the place at capacity for a few more games.

Access    4

Downtown Columbus is easy to get around and all the interstates and major streets provide signs to the arena. There are plenty of garages around the arena to park and some street parking if you are lucky. Once inside the venue, there are two main concourses offering clear signage to direct patrons to their seats, bathrooms, and concession areas. Smoking sections are at the main concourse in section 122 or at the attached parking lot outside G3 on the upper concourse.

Return on Investment    5

The Blue Jackets have three rivals: Chicago, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is perhaps the main rival being only three hours away. Ticket prices can range anywhere between $26 to $173. These prices will go up if any of these three teams are in town. However, there are few ways to purchase an affordable ticket to a game.

The best option for those who enjoy saving money would be the Huntington Green Seats in the back rows of 201 and 219 where a select number of tickets sell for $10 after 5 PM the day of the game at the box office; it is advised to get there early, since there are only 250 tickets released.

The ticket prices are much less than many other NHL venues across North America and rows A-M feature access to the Lexus Lounge and all-inclusive food and beverage. When you include parking that ranges from $5-$15, it is a pretty affordable night of watching hockey.

Extras    4

One star for the hand-crafted 12 pounder 1857 Napoleon Cannon that gets fired when the Jackets take the ice, score a goal, and win the game. The blast is followed by the songs "For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)" by AC/DC and "The Whip" by The Band Locksley.

A second star for the retro diner themed concession stands that are found throughout the main concourse. The Northside Grill, Westside Grill, and Arena Barbecue all have flashing neon colors to attract customers to its locations.

Another star for the amount of bars, restaurants, and entertainment options within walking distance of the arena. The Arena District provides a one-stop location before and after the game.

A final star for the sight lines at the arena that also include the SRO location, one of the better views in hockey.

Final Thoughts

Nationwide Arena is one of the better places to watch an NHL game when you factor in ticket prices, location, sight lines, and menu options. If you are looking at enjoying hockey in a beautiful building, check out a Blue Jackets game sometime in the future.

Don't be afraid of the cannon

There is a myth out there about sitting in Section 111 in front of the cannon; many people think the cannon actually fires and will avoid sitting near it. The cannon doesn't "fire" anything but a smoke capsule. The blast sound is electronic and is broadcast over the PA system, so sitting in front of it is no louder than at the other end of the arena. I just wish it would sound more often.

by CBJRedsOSUfan | Oct 12, 2011 12:39 PM

This place ROCKS

You have to check out Nationwide Arena sometime. It is one of the most plush and classy arenas around. From the parking garages right across the street to the food to the action on the ice, it doesnt get much better than this!!!!

by conradklank | Nov 23, 2011 10:37 AM

A comment about food/the neighborhood

Please don't mislead people unfamiliar with downtown Columbus. I am quoting from above:

"If you don't mind driving a bit outside of the District, a personal favorite place to eat is Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails."

Nationwide Arena is 8 blocks from Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails. You could drive there, I suppose, but I think portraying this as a get-in-the-car-and-drive-across-town type of excursion is not the thing to do. Also, arguably the largest culinary attraction in the city---The North Market---is about two blocks from the Arena, which is not mentioned in your article, questionably. Good analysis of the fanbase/atmosphere of the arena though.

by EllisCBJ | Mar 20, 2012 01:20 PM

re: EllisCBJ

Hey, this is Brandon, the author. Thank you for commenting, I just wanted to clarify a few things:

I omitted mentioning the North Market just due to the hours, since it closes around 5(except for Tuesdays). While people could certainly get there earlier, I figured i'd include places open in the evenings. Also, it is a big attraction, so I thought i'd name a couple places that are lesser known. You're right though, it's a fantastic place.

As for the bit about Tip Top, I didn't intend to make it sound like it was so far away, just that it's not really walking distance(I was thinking this is more applicable during the winter). With the weather as it is currently, it might actually be a nice walk.

Again, thanks for commenting.

by cadence80 | Mar 20, 2012 03:07 PM

correct me if I'm wrong

I have not been here but it looks very similar to the Scottrade Center in St. Louis in interior layout.

by Daniel Armstrong | Dec 06, 2012 12:46 AM

The Cannon

The first comment about the cannon is 50% correct. There isn't any noise that comes from the Cannon itself, just the smoke comes out. But the explosion sound is NOT electronic and over the PA system. There is an actually pyrotechnic explosion set off in the rafters of the building to make the "Boom" and it is quiet loud and definitely unique

by Joker27 | Feb 22, 2014 08:28 PM

R-Bar!

It is a travesty that you left out the R-Bar in your description of places to hang out outside the stadium. They have been THE bar for hockey fans of every team since the team first joined the league. If you love hockey, you must make a pilgrimage to the R-Bar.

by Whitmer72 | Nov 05, 2015 09:33 PM

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Crowd Reviews

Nationwide Arena, Home of the Blue Jackets

Total Score: 2.71

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 3
  • RoI: 2
  • Extras: 1

When the Columbus Blue Jackets opened in Nationwide Arena on October 7, 2000, I don't think many people in central Ohio could anticipate the impact the expansion hockey team would have on the area.

After all, Columbus is a football town. Always has been, and always will be. Even the recent 1999 Final 4 run from the Ohio State basketball team only fleetingly captured the attention of the locals.

But the citizens of Columbus have embraced the Blue Jackets as the "little brother" to Ohio State football, despite seeing very little in return - the Jackets have made the playoffs just one time in their 10 year existence, and don't seem to show signs of significant improvement for the future.

The Stage is Set

Total Score: 3.71

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 3
  • Extras: 4

It’s all here. The beautiful arena that’s easy to get to and a great place to watch a game. The neighborhood that went from ghost town to a welcoming place to gather before and after the game. A city with a loyal base of sports fans ready and willing to support their entry into the NHL. Just one thing has been missing to really set this market off, and unfortunately, the team on the ice is kind of an important component. To their credit, the fans are still there, still cheering, still waiting.

WWE Raw

Total Score: 0.00

  • Food & Beverage: 0
  • Atmosphere 0
  • Neighborhood: 0
  • Fans: 0
  • Access: 0
  • RoI: 0
  • Extras: 0

I recently came three hours to Columbus from Youngstown Ohio Just so that I could attend WWE Raw. My experience was horrible. As I was watching the show one of the performers used pyrotechnics And out of nowhere The Pyro Came over top of the curtain and hit me on the top of the head. As soon as that happen I ran and told an usher who then Directed me to his supervisor. I Told the supervisor what had just happened to me about the Pyro hitting me on the He then asked me where I was sitting not once did he ask me if I was okay nor if I need EMS. He took my ticket and told me he would be back five minutes later he Comes back and tells me that I would have to go back to the box office in the box office would not give me the same seats in the same area or I could sit in the handicap section. I Didn't want anything from the arena nor Wwe just to let them know that they shouldn't seat there fans in section 116 anymore because it was so close to the pyro. So the next day I called the arena to inform them what happened the previous night and ask why I was Offered medical attention. I speak to there Event service coordinator I tell him everything that happen to me and he says I talked to my Supervisor and he said I didn't want to sit there anymore because it was to loud. I am Outraged I didn't want anything from this place but just to let them know what happened to be and how people shouldn't sit in that arena because of the fire rush. Instead I was insulted pretty much made out to be a liar. Not one person I spoke to on that staff was Concerned about what happened to me. I will never attend another event in the city of Columbus Ohio again after such treatment by the staff at the Nationwide Arena.

Arena District is awesome!

Total Score: 3.86

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

I went to this arena on back-to-back evenings for both Arena Football and NHL games. Both nights were well spent. The Arena District is beautiful. I like the brick throughout and the open layout with bars and restaurants being that close to Nationwide Arena. This is what a multi-sports venue should be; the crown jewel of an entertainment district.

Blue Blue Jackets

Total Score: 3.57

  • Food & Beverage: 3
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 1
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

This is one of the premier venues in the NHL, still shiny new with friendly staff and a passionate fan base. Unfortunately, the season opener that marked Columbus' move to the Eastern Conference was not one that set a good example. The couple behind me spent much of their time berating the referees, screeching, while their three children wondered what the big deal was. Other fans acted childish on screen, flipping the bird and mimicking a sexual act. Well done boys. Other than that, this is a good place to watch a game and a great neighborhood, both before and after the game.

Nice venue...crowd decent

Total Score: 3.29

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 4
  • Fans: 2
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 2

The venue is real nice and nestled in a great place however the crowd for the event I went was pretty dismal. I'm surprised this team has lasted this long in a small market.

On Your Side

Total Score: 4.00

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 3
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 4
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 5

Founded in 2000, the Columbus Blue Jackets have taken their time to mature into a contender. As the lockout-shortened season of 2013 saw the team miss the playoffs by only one point, the 2013-14 season carries a renewed sense of hope along with a new set of circumstances as the team undergoes its first campaign in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.

The home of the Blue Jackets, Nationwide Arena, has undergone a number of changes to keep up with what will hopefully be the start of a new era of on-ice success.

Keeping the NHL Prisoner

Total Score: 4.00

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 3

When the NHL was on its way to Columbus, Ohio, they needed to select a site for a brand new arena. The site they chose was the former site of an Ohio penitentiary. What seems like an odd choice for a location of a hockey arena has become the gold standard in the league and an example for communities all over on how to re-invigorate an area. Now, the Arena District in Columbus is one of the top areas in all of major sports where an arena is situated. The result has been accolades for Nationwide Arena and the Columbus Blue Jackets as one of the best experiences in major media outlets, including ESPN.

The Blue Jackets played their first game in the NHL and at Nationwide Arena in 2000. They were the legacy of Worthington Industries founder John H. McConnell who brought hockey to Central Ohio. The central location offers the opportunity to draw from other major markets like Cleveland and Cincinnati. The team was named as an homage to the Ohio contribution to the American Civil War. After the death of beloved owner John H. McConnell, the team was taken over by his son John P. McConnell.

The building of an arena was a bit of a challenge for the ownership group. A referendum would be held on the building of the arena and tax dollars, but it would fail. McConnell along with the Nationwide Insurance Company would guarantee the financing to the NHL for the locally owned arena.

Over their 15 years in the league, the Columbus Blue Jackets have struggled on the ice. Making the playoffs only two times in their existence has presented problems for the team at the turnstiles after a decade of strong attendance. Combined with the competition that may be more challenging than an NFL or NBA team, Ohio State athletics, the Blue Jackets are having to up their game to make the experience even better. That being said, the Blue Jackets remain one of the great experiences in all of sport and a gold standard by which many franchises have followed.

Feeling Blue in Columbus

Total Score: 4.29

  • Food & Beverage: 4
  • Atmosphere 4
  • Neighborhood: 5
  • Fans: 3
  • Access: 5
  • RoI: 4
  • Extras: 5

The Columbus Blue Jackets are celebrating their 16th season in 2015-16, one that was filled with promise when the puck dropped in early October. The team struggled to an 0-8 start and fired their head coach, making the campaign one that will see them working their way out of a deep hole. Given that the team has only made the playoffs twice in their previous fifteen seasons, you can expect attendance at Nationwide Arena to falter if the club continues to struggle. This is unfortunate because Columbus has one of the best rinks in the NHL, but it isn’t the same experience when the seats are not full.

Constructed for the team’s debut in 2000 and a central part of the revitalization of downtown Columbus, Nationwide Arena’s naming rights are owned by Nationwide Insurance, whose headquarters are literally across the street. Although the firm sold the arena to the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority (FCCFA) in 2012, the name will remain until 2022 at least.

Nationwide Arena houses a smaller ice rink that serves as the practice facility for the Blue Jackets and is also used for youth hockey and public skating. It was the first such NHL venue, though now Buffalo’s First Niagara Center and the Prudential Center in Newark also include practice rinks.

Nationwide Arena was the scene of the only fan fatality in the history of the NHL when a 13-year-old girl was struck in the head by a deflected puck and died two days later. It was this tragedy in 2002 that led to the NHL mandating protective netting behind the goals at all rinks, a practice that is now the norm at all professional leagues.

The Blue Jackets are the only full-time tenants here, but many other entertainment events are held including NCAA tournament games, bull riding, and MMA bouts. Despite regular use throughout its history, Nationwide Arena still looks brand new and remains a premier hockey destination.

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Local Food & Drink

Elevator Brewing Company  (map it!)

161 N High St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 228-0500

http://www.elevatorbrewing.com/

Sunny Street Cafe  (map it!)

277 W Nationwide Blvd

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 222-3008

http://www.sunnystreetcafe.com/

R Bar  (map it!)

413 N Front St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 221-4950

http://www.rbararena.com/

Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails  (map it!)

73 E Gay St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 221-8300

http://www.tiptopcolumbus.com/

Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace  (map it!)

248 S 4th St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 824-4673

http://dirtyfrankscolumbus.com/

Gordon Biersch Brewery  (map it!)

401 N Front St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 246-2900

http://www.gordonbiersch.com/

Melt Bar & Grilled  (map it!)

840 N High St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 453-1150

http://meltbarandgrilled.com/more-about-melt/locations/

The Three Legged Mare  (map it!)

401 N Front St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 222-4950

http://www.threeleggedmare.com/

The Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar  (map it!)

401 N. Front St.

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 233-9999

http://www.thebigbangbar.com/oh/columbus

Schmidt's Sausage Haus  (map it!)

240 E. Kossuth St.

Columbus, OH 43206

(614) 444-6808

http://www.schmidthaus.com

Buca Di Beppo  (map it!)

343 N. Front St.

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 621-3287

http://www.bucadibeppo.com/restaurants/oh/columbus-arena-district/

Park Street Cantina  (map it!)

491 N Park St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 884-2108

http://parkstcantina.com/

Brothers Bar & Grill  (map it!)

477 Park St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 232-9020

http://www.brothersbar.com/

Local Entertainment

North Market  (map it!)

59 Spruce St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 463-9664

http://www.northmarket.com/

COSI  (map it!)

333 W. Broad St.

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 228-2674

http://www.cosi.org

A&R Music Bar  (map it!)

391 Neil Ave

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 461-5483

http://www.promowestlive.com/venues/5

LC Pavilion  (map it!)

405 Neil Ave

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 461-5483

http://www.promowestlive.com/venues/7

Lodging

Hilton Columbus Downtown  (map it!)

401 N High St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 384-8600

http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/ohio/hilton-columbus-downtown-CMHDWHH/index.html

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