Columbus is well known as a sports town and has become a leading sports destination. The Ohio State University leads the way with 36 varsity sports. In addition to our hometown sports teams -the Columbus Crew SC, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Columbus Clippers - the Greater Columbus Sports Commission brings numerous amateur, collegiate and professional sports events to town each year, from NCAA events to volleyball tournaments. Columbus has made its mark in many sports.
Columbus offers a wide variety of unique facilities and venues that include two state-of-the-art multi-purpose arenas, the nation’s first soccer-specific stadium and the world’s largest softball complex.
Nationwide Arena is a great facility and what has been done around the arena to create an atmosphere is tremendous. People were telling me it reminded them of a mini-Final Four. With the proximity of the hotels, and the restaurants and the other things, this is a great site. Ohio State has done a great job from the hosting standpoint of it. They worked really well with the facility and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission. It was a very good partnership.
Karl Benson, NCAA Men's Basketball Committee Member
Columbus: Built for you with $805 million in destination enhancements
With the addition of the new 532-room Hilton Columbus Downtown, the city now has 25,932 hotel rooms citywide, 3,800 total rooms downtown
The new full-service convention hotel includes 48 suites and 32,000 square feet of meeting space.
More than $63 million in renovations to full-service hotels in Columbus have taken place since 2008. Refreshed properties include the Drury Inn & Suites Convention Center, Hyatt Regency, CrownPlaza Columbus Downtown, The Westin Columbus, Renaissance Columbus Downtown, Red Roof Inn Columbus Downtown, Holiday Inn Columbus Downtown Capital Square and the Hilton Columbus at Easton.
The Greater Columbus Sports Commission routinely works with The Ohio State University, Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus Crew SC and many other local groups and grass-roots organizations to attract international, national, regional and state-wide sporting events to Central Ohio.
In recent years the city has hosted the first- and second-round of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments (the only city in the nation to host both tournaments on the same weekend in many years), the NCAA Frozen Four, the men’s ice hockey equivalent of the Final Four; the NCAA Men’s College Cup, the men’s soccer equivalent of the Final Four; MLS Cup and MLS All-Star Game, FIFA Women’s World Cup; men’s World Cup qualifiers; and the training camp for the United States’ team that participated in the World Cup of Hockey.
Columbus has a rich sports history, with legendary figures and numerous traditions associated with The Ohio State University Buckeyes and others.
Jesse Owens gained international stardom when he stared down German dictator Adolph Hitler at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin and won four Olympic gold medals.
Jack Nicklaus grew up in Columbus, graduated from Upper Arlington High School and competed at The Ohio State University. A winner of 20 major tournaments and 100 professional tournaments, he was named the best individual male athlete of the 20th century by Sports Illustrated. Nicklaus built the Muirfield Village Golf Club and then founded The Memorial Tournament in 1976. The event is recognized as one of the top stops on the PGA Tour.
Woody Hayes became a legend in 27 years as head coach of The Ohio State University football team. His teams won national championships in 1954, 1957, 1961, 1968 and 1970 and compiled an overall record of 205-61-10 while at Ohio State. Jerry Lucas was an All-American basketball player at The Ohio State University and was named one of the top 50 players in NBA history.
Visitors across the nation come to Columbus and see that the locals are, quite literally, sports nuts. In fact, Columbus was named the number one sports town in the U.S.* by sports fan research firm Scarborough Sports Marketing, showing that two-thirds (66%) of adults in Columbus are avid sports fans. (*Oct. 2008)
More than 101,000 scarlet and gray-clad fans pack into Ohio Stadium for each home game of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew SC has developed a loyal following. The north end of Crew Stadium is designated for any fan who wants to stand, sing and generally to join in the rowdy enthusiastic atmosphere at Crew home games. Some were hesitant when the NHL came to town. Was there room in the hearts of Central Ohioans for hockey? Absolutely! The Columbus Blue Jackets have played before sellout crowds of 18,136 in 106-of-164 games at Nationwide Arena.
World-renowned athletes with Columbus ties include:
- Former heavyweight champion James “Buster” Douglas
- Olympians Butch Reynolds, Stephanie Hightower, Bob Kennedy, Blaine Wilson and Paul and Morgan Hamm
- Arnold Schwarzenegger, promoter of the annual Arnold Fitness Weekend
- British Open champion Ben Curtis
- Rick Nash, winner of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy for most goals scored in the 2003-2004 NHL season
- International soccer star Brian McBride
- NBA star Michael Redd, Clark Kellogg, Jim Jackson and Herb Williams
- WNBA star Katie Smith, the highest-scoring scorer in women’s professional basketball in the United States
- Indy racing stars Bobby Rahal, a three-time series champion who won the Indianapolis 500 in 1986 and rising star Danica Patrick, who finished fourth in the Indianapolis 500 in 2005
- NHRA champion Jeg Couglin Jr.