Football Saturdays in Columbus, Ohio are a tradition. It’s when over 100,000 fans in scarlet and gray pack historic Ohio Stadium to cheer on Ohio State Buckeyes football. Opened in 1922, “The Horseshoe” has hosted generations of Buckeye fans and continues to evolve and expand to keep the beloved venue modern.
It’s been the home to 31 of Ohio State’s 34 Big Ten Championship teams and all 7 National Championships. Ohio State football is loaded with history and tradition with countless legendary coaches and players. Now led by Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes are looking to add to those honors.
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Selections of food and beverages has definitely improved. Along with the standards of hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, etc. you'll see additional stands like an Ohio-themed stand which features a grass-fed burger for $9 along with local brand Mike-Sell's chips or branded stands from local pizza chain Donatos ($7) and Panera Bread, which serves a small selection of soups and sandwiches ($9 and under).
As for drinks, remember that there is no alcohol served. While this may be standard practice for those of you from outside the area, many other college stadiums in the state do (Cincinnati, Kent State, Bowling Green, and Akron). Toledo and Ohio University offer alcohol to premium seating patrons only. For now, Ohio State has no plans to offer it so your drink options include Coke products (large $6.50), Tim Horton's coffee and hot chocolate, and bottled water ($4).
Unless you're cheering for the opposition, it's hard not to get caught up in the culture of Ohio State football. The tailgate scene is strong no matter if it's a beautiful fall day or drizzling and dreary.
The history of the program is on full display with mentions of coaching legends Paul Brown and Woody Hayes alongside markers for each of the school's Big Ten and National Championships.
The traditions are numerous, including the band's entrance from the stadium's north tunnel, the team's entrance from the ramp in the southeast corner, and the dotting of the 'i' during Script Ohio. These things are what makes Buckeye football unique and special to fans.
Lastly, the masses of people make this an electric atmosphere. The volume created by 100,000 fans is incredible and truly gives Ohio State a home-field advantage. The Block O student section in the south end is always there to keep things hostile for the visitors.
There are plenty of pre- and post-game venues to explore around the Ohio State campus, in addition to the tailgates surrounding the stadium. There are various bars and restaurants along the campus borders including chains like Buffalo Wild Wings (at the corner of Lane Avenue and High Street), which has beer specials and live music to low-key options along the school's eastern border of High Street.
There are a couple of places that I would recommend a bit north of the campus. The first is Hendoc's Pub (2375 North High St), a relaxed bar with decent beer specials. The second is Hounddog's Pizza (2657 North High St) which serves great food and is a great late night option as it's open 24 hours a day.
If you don't mind driving a bit, the Short North area just south of campus offers some great restaurants like Bodega (1145 High Street), a gastropub that offers interesting food options with recommended beer pairings. Their beer list is excellent, offering around 50 craft beers on draft plus a number of unique beers in bottles including Ohio breweries like Rivertown, Columbus Brewing, and Rockmill. They still offer some domestics for cheap if that's your thing.
Ohio State fans are loyal and proud of their Buckeyes. Even when they're mocked, there's still an underlying respect for that loyalty that packs their massive stadium every game day. Buckeye fans are a passionate lot and proudly voice their support before, during, and after games.
There can be jerks in any fanbase, but from what I've gathered, visiting fans (Michigan aside) are generally welcomed or at least tolerated. If you're a visiting fan, hopefully your interactions don't go beyond playful teasing. If that does happen, there are numbers to call or text to alert stadium staff to the situation.
Additionally, the school has a Sportsmanship Council which among their objectives is to staff 'Gameday Ambassadors' to go out and meet visiting fans to welcome them and possibly address any concerns.
With more than 100,000 fans converging on the area, you'd expect absolute anarchy when everyone's trying to park. Luckily, the university's traffic protocol and the stadium's location near SR-315 on the campus' northwest side make for a somewhat painless parking trip. All the school's lots charge $15 to park (look for the red lots on this map), which seems to be the average for even the private garages near High Street. You can tempt fate and try to sneak by at a street meter but many on the High Street side only have 2 hour limits and are still in effect on Saturdays.
Just plan accordingly and give yourself enough time to park and either walk or catch one of the shuttles to the stadium. Don't even bother trying to park close to Ohio Stadium as the lots immediately surrounding the stadium are reserved for season pass holders. As the school's athletic site notes, if you park in the West Campus area (west of SR-315), the shuttle is free. Columbus' transit service, COTA, runs shuttle buses from different locations, including the Ohio Expo Center grounds ($5 to park, shuttle is $5.50 per adult/$2 for kids).
At face value, tickets will cost you $79 for most games, but the school has announced higher prices for marquee games (mostly Big Ten opponents) which can push starting prices up to $110. Try your best to get tickets when first available because secondary sites can see prices inflated up to 250% for the big games.
Despite the size of the stadium, there are generally good sightlines throughout the facility, even in the nosebleeds. Food costs are somewhat standard but if you want to avoid that there are plenty of higher quality (cost-effective) options on the edges of the Ohio State campus.
Of course, the first extra is for The Best Damn Band In The Land (TBDBITL). The creativity shown during their performances is rarely matched and their formations (like this recent ode to movie themes) routinely end up getting coverage in sports media. While the band is obviously there to support the football team, they definitely stand on their own as performers. You would be wise to stick around your seat during halftime.
Another point for the unique traditions. "O-H. I-O", Script Ohio, Carmen Ohio, etc. The Skull Session, a free prep rally held at old St. John's Arena before every home game. 'Hang On Sloopy' and the school fight song, "Across The Field", will be imprinted on your brain before long, but they're all a part of what makes Ohio State football special.
Another point for the spectacle of the stadium. It's quite the experience to walk into the stadium's seating bowl and see a scarlet and grey-clad mass of humanity 102,000-strong. As pro sports venues generally can get around 3 decades of use out of a venue before it's antiquated, Ohio Stadium has almost doubled in size, capacity-wise, over its more than 90 year history, and the school is still searching for ways to keep the historic structure viable. A future expansion to the south end zone will add 2,500 seats and will make it the third-largest football stadium in the country.
Additional points go the extracurricular things to do in the campus area, and the city. The Ohio State campus offers a lot of great bars and restaurants while Columbus as a whole is an underrated mid-size city. While planning a trip here, you have the benefit of a large university being in an urban area as opposed to a rural town like many other state schools.
Ohio State football is among the great experiences in college sports and well worth the trip. The combination of tradition and history along with the Buckeyes' consistent ranking on the national stage makes a trip to Ohio Stadium an exciting and meaningful sports journey.
For seven or eight Saturdays in the fall, everything in Columbus, Ohio stops. Hundreds of thousands of people gather in the northern part of the city, decked out in scarlet and gray, as streets shut down and prepare for a day of skull sessions, dotting the I, and tailgating. And for the older crowd, maybe a beer or two is enjoyed as well.
There really is nothing quite like the atmosphere surrounding an Ohio State football game. You'll find this in most college towns, but it's further amplified in Columbus. Virtually everyone in Ohio can find a common ground with one another: the Buckeyes. From Toledo to Portsmouth, Cleveland to Cincinnati, it all culminates in a three-and-a-half hour party in the Horseshoe.
It doesn't matter what else is going on in the city, or the state for that matter. In 2010, President Barack Obama visited The Ohio State University and spoke on the Oval. But that wasn't even the biggest buzz around town - that distinction belonged to the Buckeyes, who earned the No. 1 ranking for the first time in three years.
The men's basketball team makes the Final 4? Terrific news.
The Browns or Bengals are fighting for a playoff spot? Sure to get some people around Columbus fired up.
The Blue Jackets make it to the playoffs for the first time? Exciting times.
But none of that holds a candle to Ohio State football.
On the banks of the Olentangy River in Columbus, Ohio, 200,000 people gather for six Saturdays every fall to come together as one to cheer on their beloved Buckeyes. Whether the team is playing for a national title or only looking ahead to the big rivalry of the year, fans will brave the unpredictable Ohio weather to get loud for the Scarlet and Gray.
Ohio Stadium, home of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team, was constructed in just over a year and held its first official game on October 7, 1922, against crosstown Ohio Wesleyan University in front of a crowd of 25,000. Very fittingly, later that season, the first-ever Michigan game held in Ohio Stadium drew an amazing crowd at the time of over 72,000 of the 90,000 available seats. Since the opening, many renovations have been conducted to update and expand "The Shoe" which now comfortably seats 102,000, the fourth-largest college football stadium in the country. In addition to Buckeye football, Ohio Stadium has also been home to the Columbus Crew, before they built their own stadium, and various concerts such as Pink Floyd, Elton John, Billy Joel, U2, and the Rolling Stones.
This may have been my favorite college sporting event I've attended. It's still the story I tell people. 2007 Ohio State was playing Illinois, and Illinois upset Ohio State. The thing that was amazing was that the crowd was loud the entire game, until it became clear that Illinois was going to win. When Illinois scored that last touchdown the entire stadium went silent. It was the strangest feeling I've ever felt.
It was an extra bonus that I went to school at Illinois.
This place is just a sports fan's dream! It doesnt get much better than this in college sports! Add this trip to your bucket list! Must-see!!!
Everything about Ohio State game day is awesome. Seeing all of the tailgaters set up and grilling! We always go to the Skull Session at St. John's Arena - when the band comes down the tunnel the place is so loud and you get goosebumps from it all! Then the coach and players walk in to address everyone and place explodes again. The crowd atmosphere during the game is second to none. Script OHIO, the dotting of the 'I', the list goes on and on! You're not just a fan...you're a BUCKEYE!!! O - H - I - O
Most of Ohio is football land, and Columbus is no exception. It seems like everyone in town is passionate about their Buckeyes, and there is a bit of surliness now that the Ohio State University is down amid a so-so season and the ousting of Jim Tressel. It will be really interesting to watch what Urban Meyer can do for this program.
Great game, bathrooms situation for women in the upperdeck isn't bad, it's unbearable for men as there are 3 urinals & 2 stalls for approximately 20,000 people.
Atmosphere is like nothing else on game days. People come flowing in from all over just to hang out at the bars or tailgates before the game and it is PACKED. From what I've seen at least, away fans are treated with respect (minus Michigan, but even that I've never seen blatantly cross the line of heckling into personal attack). The band is absolutely amazing, if you doubt it at all look up the Nebraska halftime show on youtube. Plenty of stuff to do after games on High Street which is only a 10-15 minute walk from the stadium (a good time to take in the OSU campus lol). Food and beverage is nothing special, and I can't imagine ROI is as great for neutral fans if the game isn't something extraordinary, as even tickets for low key games get pretty expensive.
278 W Lane Ave
Columbus, OH 43201
2195 N. High Street
Columbus, OH 43201
2657 N High St
Columbus, OH 43202
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175 E Town St
Columbus, OH 43215