• Search by team or stadium name:

Buy the latest issue of Stadium Journey Magazine - Subscribe Today!

Stadium Journey Sports Magazine Subscriptions

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


Feeling Blue in Columbus

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.


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

The majority of the concession stands are on the lower concourse, with a good selection of typical stadium fare. Some examples are all-beef hot dogs for $5, French fries for $4.50, cheese fries for $6, bratwurst for $7, and nachos for $7 (add a buck for double dipper nachos). Papa John's Pizza is available for $8, while a Panini sandwich basket is $10. Specialty options include Chef's Corners Sandwiches such as fried bologna ($10.50) or The Shelleyhawk (steak topped with chicken fried bacon, banana peppers and Labatt cheddar cheese spread).

As the area around the stadium is filled with great restaurant and bar options, I would recommend just snacking during the game, and finding a place to chow down afterwards. The bargain is Tim Horton's, where a box of 10 Timbits is just $2.50. Another smaller option is the Chili Cheese Coney, a mini hot dog covered with Skyline Chili and shredded cheddar for $4.50.

There is a craft beer bar called Arch City Ales, where 16 ounces goes for $9 while 24 ounces costs $13. There are eight selections, including IPA, Blonde, and Oktoberfest. If you prefer the mass produced stuff, a large draft is $9, while a can is $7.50.

Those abstaining can enjoy Pepsi products from the fountain for $4.75 (souvenir cup is $6.25), while bottled water is also $4.75. Some stands sell generous helpings of wine for $8, while if you really want to tie one on, mixed drinks are $8 (add a $1 for a premium liquor) while JagerBombs are $11.

Atmosphere    4

Nationwide Arena is perfectly designed, starting from the large square to the east where fans line up before doors open. The ticket office is at the southwest corner of the building if you are picking up or looking to purchase. Also note the 135-foot tall light tower that is illuminated to signal an event inside Nationwide Arena.

After entering, the wide-open concourses and dozens of little touches make a pre-game tour a delight. There is a lot to see here, including the cannon behind Section 111, at which you can have your photo taken.

The small club section means that upper deck seats are relatively close to the ice. There are two 80-foot party suite towers in the stage end of the building that house large suites that look like they would be a lot of fun. There really isn't a bad seat in the house, with sight lines clear from all points.

Pick up the free program that can usually be found lying on a table in the concourses or in the hands of your usher. Staff are very friendly and happy to assist you in any way. During the game, the cannon blasts and "For Those About to Rock" plays to signify a goal, but other than that, the arena is rather quiet. There isn't much organic cheering at the game, a definite contrast to what you would experience at an Ohio State football game in town.

Of course, the Blue Jackets compete with the Buckeyes for sports dollars and they know that is a losing battle; so they make the experience as fan friendly as possible and it is one of the most enjoyable places to visit in the NHL.

Neighborhood    5

The area surrounding Nationwide Arena, appropriately called the Arena District, is one of the best in pro sports. There are dozens of restaurants, bars, clubs and even a movie theater. Huntington Park, home of the International League's Columbus Clippers, is just a couple of blocks away.

There are a number of eateries in the area worth checking out including Big Bang Dueling Piano Bar, Buca Di Beppo, Three-Legged Mare, Steak Escape, Gordon Biersch, Elevator Brewery, Ted's Montana Grill, Rondizio Grill, and bd's Mongolian Grill. I'll add to the list by recommending that you walk up Ludlow Street (the small alleyway in front of the arena) to Short North, a hipper area that caters to students and artistic types alike.

Brothers Bar & Grill at the corner of Park and Vine is a good pre-game spot with great happy hour prices, but it turns into a club late on the weekends and is not a place to relax post game. Continue north to the Park Street Tavern for good craft beers, or move one block east to High Street where there are dozens of choices to suit all palates.

The Ohio State campus is just a couple of miles north and easily accessible on the bus or a long walk. Should there be a football game there while you are in town, it is well worth going there just to experience the atmosphere.

Fans    3

There are many long-suffering Blue Jacket fans, but there aren't enough to fill the place. No doubt the early season struggles hurt attendance when I visited, but that is not an excuse. Early season hockey is usually the best quality as players are fresh and active before the grind of the regular season sets in, but I think the Blue Jackets need to start winning to see their attendance start to rise. Those fans that are present are generally well behaved and knowledgeable, though I have had some bad experiences in the past with obnoxious, loud, and drunk fans in my section at Nationwide Arena.

Access    5

Downtown Columbus is actually a very affordable place to stay, except when the Buckeyes have a home football game. It is easy to get in and out for a Blue Jackets game. The Vine Street Garage (use the entrance on Convention Center Drive just west of High Street) is only $5 for events and just off I-690 from the airport.

Inside, the concourses are wide, there are escalators going to the top level that move quickly, and the seating bowl is plush and comfortable, with enough leg room to allow others to pass while standing. As is often the case, bathrooms are busy at intermissions, but there are not any problems.

Check out Parking Panda for some of the best parking options for the game. Use the promo code STADIUMJOURNEY10 for 10% off your first transaction.

Return on Investment    4

Tickets are reasonably priced at the box office when compared to other NHL cities, with end zone seats in the upper deck running $30, while those along the side are $58. In the lower deck, tickets range from $70 to $110, though you can splurge if you want to sit next to the glass. However, in all cases, you should look into specials and the secondary market because the Jackets are just not drawing as much as they could.

The most notable special is the Huntington Green seats. Beginning two hours prior to every regular season home game, 250 seats in the upper level are released and priced at just $10. These are only available at the box office, so get there at 5pm, get your cheap seats, and then enjoy the area.

If you are a student, you can buy $15 upper bowl tickets and $25 lower bowl tickets to regular season Blue Jackets home games, with those going on sale an hour before the game, again only at the box office.

Despite those prices, the product on the ice needs to improve to achieve an optimal return on investment.

Extras    5

The most obvious extra is the cannon that is fired after every Columbus goal. In reality, it is more of a light show as the barrel is filled with flash powder to generate the smoke effect, while there is a charge detonated simultaneously in rafters.

The lower concourse has a number of games, including a large peg hockey game that you can play for free with strangers, a smaller carpeted hockey rink for kids, and a tiny box hockey game where you try to push a puck through holes against a single opponent.

There are a number of tributes to the team, including one commemorating their 15 seasons, another with hats from all the Blue Jacket hat tricks at Nationwide Arena, and one describing how the team came to be. All are worth reading and demonstrate the pride that this city has in its only team in the Big 4.

Note the high school hockey jersey display above the main concourse; a nice touch that shows that hockey is a popular sport in Ohio.

There are banners for each NHL team above one end of the rink, though they have yet to be updated to move the Coyotes banner to its proper alphabetical position now that the team is named for Arizona.

Game stats such as hits and blocked shots are updated along the ribbon boards between the two decks and are updated regularly throughout the game.

Final Thoughts

If I lived in Columbus, I would go here all the time. It really is one of the best NHL arenas around when all the elements of attending a game are combined. A great neighborhood, a unique game day presentation, and affordable tickets with excellent sight lines are all you really need for an NHL game to be enjoyable. If only the team could match their arena, the Blue Jackets could be the top destination in the league.

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


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

You must be a Stadium Journey member to post a comment.

Already a member? Sign in or Create a Stadium Journey Account

-- OR --

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.

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.

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


Brothers Bar & Grill  (map it!)

477 Park St

Columbus, OH 43215

(614) 232-9020


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



© 2016 Stadium Journey