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Nationwide Arena

Columbus, OH

Home of the Columbus Blue Jackets



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

Columbus Blue Jackets website

Nationwide Arena website

Year Opened: 2000

Capacity: 18,103

There are no tickets available at this time.


Local Information


Keeping the NHL Prisoner

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.


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    4

Nationwide Arena offers a full complement of concessions that you would expect at any major league establishment. There are numerous major franchises that have a presence inside Nationwide. Papa John's provides pizza and paninis. Tim Horton's provides coffee and donuts. Cold Stone Creamery provides ice cream. Other options throughout the arena include a variety of fries and burgers, cheesesteaks, hot dogs, sausages and nachos. Popcornopolis provides a variety of popcorn that may interest you but the stand that you want to check out is the Skyline Chili stand. An Ohio favorite, you can get coneys, fries or nachos with Skyline Chili and mounds of cheddar cheese. It's a must have when you are in Ohio.

Atmosphere    4

It is hard to imagine that Nationwide Arena is now 15 years old. The exterior of the arena still looks good. Dominated by classic red brick, the arena fits the decor of the Arena District perfectly. The square on the east side of the arena is the perfect venue to meet other fans before the game. Inside the arena, the concourses are bright and wide and offer a few interesting items worth exploring before the action stars on the ice.

The mini-arena offers the opportunity for a little street hockey before the game. The real gem though is the giant peg hockey game. It is a fantastic opportunity to meet some new fans, play a little hockey and simply have a great time.

When entering the arena bowl, you will notice immediately how the Blue Jackets are trying to look successful. In the rafters there is a distinct lack of banners honoring team accomplishments. As a result, the Blue Jackets have banners for all of the teams in the NHL, similar to what you would find at a college venue. They also have a banner honoring former owner John H. McConnell. What is disturbing, however, is the raising of banners for sponsors. These are not simply ads, but banners similar to the John McConnell one. In an industry that is always trying to balance tradition with revenue, this is a point where a team has crossed the line.

The arena itself is in an east-west configuration. The west end corners offer unique balcony suites. The upper bowl is in a horseshoe configuration. The sightlines at Nationwide Arena are as good as any arena in the league. Once the game begins, the seating bowl is darkened to bring the spotlight to the ice. If you are a little squeamish, then be ready. The cannon explodes at the beginning of the game and after Blue Jackets goals accompanied with "For Those About to Rock."

Neighborhood    5

The Arena District is one of the best in all of pro-sports. There are so many pre and post game meal options within walking distance that your head will spin. The Arena District is really what puts the Blue Jackets in that upper echelon of sporting experiences. Some possible options may include Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar, Buca Di Beppo, Three-Legged Mare, Steak Escape, Gordon Biersch, Elevator Brewery, Ted's Montana Grill, Rondizio Grill, or bd's Mongolian Grill. If you are looking for something even more unique, you may want to hop over to the Germantown section of town and stop at the very popular Schmidt's Sausage Haus. At the very least, their cream puffs are to die for!

If you are looking for other sporting options when you are in town, you are in luck. Columbus is home to The Ohio State University where the Buckeyes field strong basketball and hockey teams. However the ultimate Ohio State experience would be seeing the Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium play football. Also, you could check out the Columbus Clippers just up the street from Nationwide Arena or the Columbus Crew SC. If you are looking for some more family entertainment on your stay, then make sure to check out COSI, one of the best science centers in the country.

Fans    3

Columbus Blue Jackets fans are fairly hardy all things considered. There are few teams that have seen as little success as the Blue Jackets have on the ice in the last fifteen years. Although attendance is not what it was in the first decade, the Blue Jackets have not been mentioned in the same breath as Arizona and Florida as teams that are really struggling with attendance. That being said, the Blue Jackets have been in the bottom wrung of attendance in the NHL. In the 2015 season they averaged over 15,000 fans for the first time in a while and bumped their attendance up to 24th in the league. There is still a ways to go. It would be interesting to see where the Blue Jackets would be if they could sustain some success on the ice. The fans that are in attendance are loud and boisterous at all the right times, but pretty quiet during some of the more sustained defensive minded portions of the game.

Access    5

For an arena that is located in a centrally urban area, I'm not sure there is a better location anywhere that does a better job of moving traffic post game. The police and event organizers have emptying the numerous parking garages into the city and out of downtown to a science! There are numerous parking garages in the Arena District so finding a place to park won't be a problem. Inside the arena, the concourses are wide enough and the washrooms are more than adequate.

Return on Investment    4

For the NHL, the Blue Jackets are a pretty affordable experience. The average ticket price for a Blue Jackets game in 2015 is under $50 at $48.90. Compared to the NHL average of over $62 this is a pretty good deal. Tickets can easily be found for under $25 and even under $20 if you look hard enough. Concession prices are okay and parking is affordable as well. Put this all together and you have a great experience for a lot less than a mortgage payment.

Extras    3

An extra two marks for the staying power of the Blue Jackets, still doing okay amidst some pretty bad teams on the ice.

An extra mark for Leo Welsh, the anthem singer for the Blue Jackets, who is gleefully greeted by the fans with a huge "LEO" welcome.

An extra mark for the old-school organ (electric piano) player right out in the crowd.

One LESS mark for the practice of raising banners in honor of corporate sponsors. This practice has to stop. Sponsors are important, but should not be compared to builders, coaches and players for lasting honors.

Final Thoughts

It would be wonderful to see what could happen in Columbus if the Blue Jackets were able to put together a team that could make the playoffs consistently for a few years. The city would be captivated and the team would be solidified in Central Ohio. If the Blue Jackets are a great experience now, imagine what they would be like with a rabid fan base in a conference final!!

Follow all of Dave's sporting adventures on Twitter @profan9 and on Instagram.

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

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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.


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.

Share your thoughts about Nationwide Arena

Local Food & Drink

Elevator Brewing Company  (map it!)

161 N High St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 228-0500


Sunny Street Cafe  (map it!)

277 W Nationwide Blvd

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 222-3008


R Bar  (map it!)

413 N Front St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 221-4950


Tip Top Kitchen & Cocktails  (map it!)

73 E Gay St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 221-8300


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

248 S 4th St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 824-4673


Gordon Biersch Brewery  (map it!)

401 N Front St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 246-2900


Melt Bar & Grilled  (map it!)

840 N High St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 453-1150


The Three Legged Mare  (map it!)

401 N Front St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 222-4950


The Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar  (map it!)

401 N. Front St.

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 233-9999


Schmidt's Sausage Haus  (map it!)

240 E. Kossuth St.

Columbus, OH 43206

(614) 444-6808


Buca Di Beppo  (map it!)

343 N. Front St.

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 621-3287


Park Street Cantina  (map it!)

491 N Park St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 884-2108


Local Entertainment

North Market  (map it!)

59 Spruce St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 463-9664


COSI  (map it!)

333 W. Broad St.

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 228-2674


A&R Music Bar  (map it!)

391 Neil Ave

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 461-5483


LC Pavilion  (map it!)

405 Neil Ave

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 461-5483



Hilton Columbus Downtown  (map it!)

401 N High St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 384-8600



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