Value City Arena: A Very Average Experience

Paul SwaneySenior Analyst IMarch 8, 2010

Review originally published on

The name isn’t the only thing that feels big when you attend an Ohio State basketball game.  Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center accommodates 19,500 spectators for a hoops contest, giving it the feel of an NBA arena. 

It’s not that big is necessarily a bad attribute, but when it comes to college basketball, you certainly lose the energy and intimacy that can be found in smaller venues.


FANFARE Score: 20.5 (out of 35)

F ood & Beverage: 3.5

There are plenty of concession stands throughout, but nothing that you’ll find overly memorable.  I thought the Donato’s pizza was better than most that you will find in an arena, and they also offer Johnsonville brats.  Overall, you won’t be disappointed if you wait to eat at the game.  They offer Coca-cola products for those fans looking to quench their thirst.


A tmosphere: 3

My biggest issue with Value City Arena is the size, and that it just doesn’t have that college feel.  If the city of Columbus could ever get an NBA franchise this would be a great locale.  As it stands as a college venue, it can be noisy and high energy.

I sat in the very highest row, and it is far away enough that I would pass up the opportunity to sit there again.


N eighborhood: 4

The immediate neighborhood surrounding Value City Arena provides plenty of choices within a half mile for food and drinks.  Senor Buckeyes is a divey sort of campus bar.  We had a couple of drinks at the bar, and the bartender, Ronica Gesling (she asked that I publish her name) was good enough to invent a drink for us. 

She called it “The Undefeated,” and it contained Malibu rum, Captain Morgan, Grenadine, Pineapple juice, and a splash of 151.  She also told us that the previous owner’s grandfather was hit by a car by Richard Nixon’s son.  I can’t verify the authenticity of this story, but it was as interesting as the drink.

Varsity Club is a popular choice before and after games and is very close by, so get there early if you want to actually sit down.  We stopped by after the game, and it just felt crowded and filled with generic beers.  It’s probably not the spot for you if you’re wearing the visiting team’s colors.

There’s also Bernie’s, a true dive bar, where you can grab a beer at the bar where Jeffrey Dahmer was once a regular (if that sort of thing appeals to you).


F ans: 3

It is clear that football is king when you’re in Columbus.  Even when the team is doing well, you don’t feel the electricity and anticipation found at other college venues (like in East Lansing or Bloomington).

That disclaimer aside, Buckeye fans do a good job of filling up one of the largest arenas in college basketball, and offer expected support when times are good.  I guess “average” is the word that comes to mind when I try to describe these fans; they won’t do anything that is surprising either in a good or bad way.


A ccess: 4

There are plenty of restrooms and they are all clean.  Concourses are wide and easy to navigate.  Parking is ample, and you can find free street parking if you’re willing to walk a few blocks.  Overall, you’ll be pleased at how easy it is to get around when you go to an Ohio State basketball game.


R eturn on Investment: 2

Ohio State has the most expensive tickets in the Big Ten, both for basketball and football.  What you get for your money is a big generic experience.  The price isn’t going to break the bank, but unless it’s a big time game, then you’re probably paying too much.


E tc: 1

For as much as this is a football school, it is also a basketball program which has been to 10 Final Fours, and won the NCAA Championship in 1960.  That kind of history is worth an extra point in my book.

Paul Swaney is the Co-Founder of Stadium Journey