Columbus, Ohio’s love affair with their sports is more passionate than the average Midwest-American burgh, and that’s exactly the way they like it.
“Columbus has been a great sports city for decades,” says Linda Logan, executive director of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission. “The community recognizes the importance and how the sports culture here contributes to the quality of life.”
Logan says Columbus “punches above their weight-class” in attracting national professional and amateur sporting events. The American Collegiate Hockey Championship is currently underway at OhioHealth Ice Haus at Nationwide Arena and the NCAA Women’s Final Four tips later this month. Also on tap for 2018: NCAA Men’s Golf Regional Championship, Minor League Baseball Triple-A All Star and National Championship, and Junior Volleyball Association SummerFest
Keeping Columbus among the top sports communities in the nation are their world-class facilities. Here’s a look at some new upgrades and additions.
Greater Columbus Convention Center
The convention center has hosted more volleyball tournaments than any other building in America, according to Logan. In June 2017, GCCC emerged from a $140 million renovation with 373,000 square feet of exhibit space and facility enhancements such as additional meeting rooms (75 in total) and the Discovery Café featuring an indoor hydroponic vertical farm expected to yield 5,000 pounds of vegetables and herbs annually. The 30th anniversary Arnold Sports Festival will be held here in March attracting more than 17,000 athletes and nearly 200,000 spectators.
Bo Jackson’s Elite Sports
The “Bo-Dome” landed in Hilliard, a northwestern suburb of Columbus, in 2017, following years of planning and significant market research. “This is the first facility outside of Chicago for us,” says Aaron Conrad, director of business development and marketing for Bo Jackson Elite Sports. “Teams and individuals want to extend their season and we saw a tremendous opportunity for a facility here for not just baseball but softball, soccer, lacrosse, football and performance training.”
The 114,000 sq.-ft. dome features baseball and softball diamonds with 75-ft high ceilings, batting cages, pitching tunnels, multi-sports field, collegiate-style weight room and a sports performance training area featuring “The Gauntlet,” a 46-ft high climbing wall, stair-climb and auto-belayed “leap of faith” confidence builder.
This 6,500-seat multi-use stadium is the new home to Major League Lacrosse’s Ohio Machine. Situated on the former site of the Columbus Motor Speedway in the Village of Obetz, the Fortress earns its ominous name from the charcoal-colored stacked repurposed cargo containers that comprise its 18,000 sq.-ft administration, meetings and concession building fronting the stadium and surrounding a 12,000 sq.-ft courtyard.
“We wanted a ‘Wizard of Oz’ effect when people came into this dark, ominous structure only to find this bright inviting space upon entry,” says Rod Davisson, Obetz Village administrator and project manager for the Fortress. “The courtyard, which has the same synthetic turf as on the field, and surrounding concession/patio is designed for community events and gatherings.”
The state-of-the-art oversized field is one of only three fields in the U.S. to be certified by the World Rugby, according to Davisson. “We designed our field to meet the specifications of play for soccer, rugby, lacrosse and football.” The field employs an auto striping system–think giant Roomba—than can stripe the field for multiple sports in a mere fraction of the time it takes manually.
Covelli Multi-Sport Arena
This years-in-the planning sports complex at Ohio State University is a mid-sized 3700-seat, 100,000 sq.-ft. arena and will be home to OSU’s Men’s volleyball program and also host wrestling, gymnastics, and fencing. Planners are projecting a 2018 opening.