Value City Arena at Jerome Schottenstein Center (map it)
555 Borror Dr
Columbus, OH 43210
Year Opened: 1998
There are no tickets available at this time.
Official Review by Brandon Gee, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
In the shifting world of college hockey, Ohio State is poised to grow. With the Big Ten forming an official hockey conference, slated to begin in 2013, the bar will be raised as exposure increases. The Buckeyes program has been improving, but struggles to capture the interest of the collective Ohio State fan base. The team’s home, Value City Arena at The Schottenstein Center, brings major league amenities and presentation to the college campus.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t feel like a proper home for this team. It’s like the hockey team is stuck crashing on the basketball teams’ couch. Case in point: If Ohio State had advanced to the second round of its conference playoff, they would have been forced to play their home games in the OSU Ice Rink due to a state wrestling tournament. The Ice Rink (capacity 1,415), the original home of the program, is a simple setup with bleachers, similar to most community rinks.
Regardless of the playoff situation, Value City Arena is too big for Ohio State hockey, which greatly affects the atmosphere and I have to assume, any home ice advantage the school would like to cultivate. The VCA is actually the largest capacity Division I college hockey rink in the nation, and the fact that the team doesn’t crack 10,000 per game and averages under 4,000, is an issue.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The VCA is a first-class facility and the food follows suit. There are decent prices, with $3 for a hot dog to $8.50 for an Angus burger. The brat from Bob Evans is recommended, it actually has some char on it, as opposed to being steamed/boiled. Also recommended are the Funnel Fries ($4.50). Yes, fries of funnel cake, dusted with powdered sugar. You may have to wait for them, but they'll be "fresh" & hot, so it's worth it.
As for alcohol, the arena is a campus facility, so there's no alcohol sold/allowed in the lower or upper levels. Instead, alcohol is sold on the suite level and the 200 level (Huntington Club). In the case of the latter, any 21+ year old patron is allowed to go into the Huntington Club level and buy alcohol, but the catch is you have to drink it there.
As we have noted in our review of Ohio State's men's basketball team, the Value City Arena feels very professional. The place has all the features you could want in an arena. The problem is it doesn't feel like a college arena, it feels kind of sterile, and that was for a sellout crowd watching Top 25 college basketball.
Hockey drowns in this place. The game I attended had the 2nd-highest attendance of the year at 8,400, roughly 3,000 of those were fans of the opposing Miami Redhawks. The average attendance in 2012 was about 3,800 in a building that seats 17,500 for hockey. It's nice to have all the features of an arena of this scale, but hockey doesn't seem like a good fit here. The university attempts to combat this by using a curtain to block off an end zone and sideline in the upper deck, leaving half of those seats open. Perhaps they should consider closing off the rest of it, as the crowd in the nearly full lower bowl was energetic and fun, with a good give and take between Miami and Ohio State fans.
Credit to the Knucklebucks student group, whose mocking of opponents has garnered them attention in national hockey media. The students coordinate chants and wear t-shirts with a customized message to the opponent. Also, the band, TBDBITL (google it.), brought it as usual, and really reminded you that you were at an Ohio State event.
Unfortunately, that's not enough to make Value City Arena a good hockey arena. There are stories out there about the future of the nearby St. Johns' Arena, the former home of basketball and current venue for wrestling and volleyball. University officials have mentioned the place could be demolished. I hope that as the school plans a new secondary arena where hockey will be used as a centerpiece. I think if you could get a building with around a 8,000 seat capacity, it would greatly improve the atmosphere of a Buckeye hockey game. Plus, you potentially would be able to house both men's and women's hockey under one roof, while still having an appropriate venue for wrestling and volleyball. Now they just have to get someone to pay for it.
In all directions surrounding The Schottenstein Center, there's something to do. To the north on Olentangy River Road, there are some divey, sports bars. About a mile south on Olentangy River Road, there's the Lennox Town Center, a strip mall with a movie theater, bookstore, and chain restaurants like Johnny Rockets, and Champs.
If you drive towards the campus on Lane Avenue, you'll hit a variety of restaurants and bars. About a mile from The Schottenstein Center, you'll hit the intersection of Lane and High Street, (High being the north-south commercial stretch for the campus) where there is a good variety of independent & chain quick-service restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings, Piada, Chipotle, etc.
If you want to see the campus, the arena is on the northwest side of campus, close to Ohio Stadium and St. John's Arena.
As I mentioned, the students were great. It was a smart move by the university to make hockey games free for all students. It's disappointing to see a competitive program in a decent-sized city struggle to attract fans to fill even the lower bowl. Perhaps, the Blue Jackets experience at Nationwide Arena overshadow any hockey in Columbus, but with the Ohio State name and tradition, you'd think more people would be engaged.
The Schottenstein Center sits on the northwest corner of the Ohio State campus. It's part of the University's sports complex that contains Bill Davis Stadium (baseball) and Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium (Track & Field, Lacrosse, Soccer), among other sporting facilities. You can easily access the complex from SR-315, either taking the Ackermann Road exit, which puts you at the north end of the complex, or the Lane Avenue exit, which drops you at the south side, where the arena sits. There are plenty of surface lots surrounding the arena on Fred Taylor Drive and due to the smaller crowds for hockey, the logistical issues for basketball aren't as big of an issue here. We filed in and out of a close parking lot with relative ease.
As far as inside the arena, the VCA has many points of entry so you can get inside with ease, and the concourses are wide. Due to the size of the place and the average attendance level of men's hockey, you can get through concessions quickly, but they're not all going to be open.
Tickets are really affordable at $11 for adults, and $8 for kids and seniors (this is before the dreaded Ticketmaster fees), which is a great price point for lower bowl seats to watch Division I college hockey. I should note, all lower bowl seats are assigned, but in the event of bigger demand, the upper bowl opens up and is general admission. Also, if you consider how much it costs to attend the "marquee" sports at Ohio State, this has to be the best value going.
One point for all the Ohio State traditions including; the band, O-H-I-O, and the hockey helmets that resemble the helmets of the football Buckeyes. Another point for the Knucklebucks student section, they were fun to watch and into the game the whole time, despite Ohio State getting blown out on this occasion.
Things seem like they're on the upswing for the Ohio State hockey program. Coach Mark Osiecki is improving the program every year. Hopefully as the Big Ten hockey conference goes into action, Ohio State fans will become more vested in the team, since those traditional rivalries may be able to draw better than certain small schools in the current crop of Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) foes. An NHL-level presentation is nice, with the giant scoreboard, fireworks during the introductions, LED boards, and so on, but since this is college hockey, perhaps the team would be better served by an atmosphere that's a bit less flashy, and bit more traditional.
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