When you think of Ohio, the image of a modest, home-grown Midwestern state usually comes to mind. It is a friendly state full of hard-working and generous people, giving off a comfortable vibe that anyone can appreciate. But inside the quiet borders of Ohio is another side, the face of the raging Buckeyes pumping with athletic adrenaline and home-town pride. Ohio’s sports lineage dates back to the late 19th century and has grown even more intense over the last 100 years. Sports planners will find everything they need to host a successful tournament in Ohio, along with some fascinating sports history and avid fans.
Columbus Sports Facilities
The largest city in Ohio, Columbus is located at the heart of the state at the intersection of I-70 and I-71. It is home to Ohio State University, a college known for its elite sports program and avid fans. Sports planners will find a number of top facilities, friendly service, talented athletes and plentiful amenities in Columbus. And with 25,005 hotel rooms in the region—3,280 located in downtown—you can be sure the city is large enough to host any kind of sporting event.
Nationwide Arena is home of the National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets. It is located in Arena district, surrounded by a range of restaurants, shops and cafes. The venue seats 18,136 spectators for hockey and 19,500 for basketball. It also features two plazas connected to the arena that serve well as function space.
Sports planners can host their next baseball event at one of the top facilities in the country. Huntington Park was named Ballpark of the Year in 2009 by Baseballparks.com, and it is a premier location for playing and watching baseball games. The venue is home to the Columbus Clippers, the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. It can seat up to 10,000 spectators.
Ohio State University has 26 collegiate teams and numerous sports venues. Ohio Stadium is home to Buckeye football and is one of the largest college football stadiums. It seats 102,329 spectators, and you can only hope your sports tournament draws the massive sea of red that is known to occupy this stadium.
Crew Stadium plays host to Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew. It’s located on the grounds of the Ohio Expo Center and seats 22,555 fans. Not only is it a great spot for professional, amateur and youth soccer, but it is also designed to cater to various other sports, including rugby, football and lacrosse.
Sports Tournaments in Cleveland
Nestled on the southern shore of Lake Erie, Cleveland boasts an eclectic culture, thriving music scene and buzzing sports environment. Sure, Cleveland is known for its love of rock and roll, but it is also the place where one of the first American League Baseball teams—the Cleveland Indians—was formed, and where the first Monday Night Football game was played.
“Cleveland has it all from top-notch facilities, great entertainment options, attractions, hotels, convenience and affordability,” says Jenny Popis, communications manager for the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. “Moreover, we’re one of the top sports communities in the country, bringing much passion and energy to the events we host.”
The city has played host to many major events, including the International Children’s Games, AST Dew Tour, U.S. Figure Skating National Championships and the most recent NCAA Collegiate Women’s Gymnastics National Championships.
Many of Cleveland’s major sports events take place at Quicken Loans Arena, home of basketball’s Cleveland Cavaliers. The 20,500-seat venue transforms into an ice hockey rink for Lake Erie Monsters games, the primary affiliate team of the Colorado Avalanche.
If you venture a little ways outside of Cleveland, you will find Akron’s Canal Park. The facility is home to the Akron Aeros, the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. It seats 9,097 spectators but can expand to accommodate 12,500. A bonus feature of Canal Park is the pedestrian bridge that connects it to the children’s hospital next door, giving you easy access to medical care.
Back in Cleveland, Progressive Field can be found in downtown, right next to Quicken Loans Arena. The ballpark is home to the Cleveland Indians and has been rented out to host a variety of sporting events over the years. It seats 43,345 spectators, with plenty of club space, restaurants and meeting areas.
Dayton Sporting Events
Located just north of Cincinnati, Dayton is often considered small and modest in comparison. But in reality, Dayton has a lot going for it. Known as the birthplace of aviation, the city has played a major role in the country’s air travel technology, and citizens often say that in Dayton, the sky’s the limit. That is certainly true when it comes to sports. The city may not have any professional teams, but its minor league and college level ones are definitely worth a look.
The University of Dayton Arena is one of the most admired venues for college basketball. In fact, it has hosted 82 games for the NCAA national tournament, making it the second most prolific arena in the sport. The 13,455-seat arena opened back in 1969 and has drawn crowds from hundreds of places over the years. If you’re lucky, you may just be able to snag this elusive spot for your next big sports tournament.
Situated just outside of Dayton in Trotwood, Ohio, is Hara Arena. This sports venue is home to the Dayton Gems of the Central Hockey League, and indoor football’s Silverbacks. Built on the site of an old farm, Hara spans 165,000 square feet and includes the main arena, four exhibition halls and a conference center. So not only does it provide plenty of spectator seating—5,500 seats—but it also has room to set up tournament headquarters, booths and concessions. And to get your hockey team really excited, tell them this was where Wayne Gretzky played his first professional hockey game ever.
Perhaps it’s the proximity to Cincinnati, but the people of Dayton absolutely love baseball. Their Class A minor league baseball team, the Dayton Dragons, play at Fifth Third Field and have managed to sell out each season 11 years in a row. The 8,200-seat stadium features two-deck seating and numerous skyboxes.
While Dayton may not have a professional football team, it has a strong history with the league. Triangle Park, located at the confluence of the Great Miami and Stillwater rivers, was the site of the very first game played in the National Football League back in 1920. Since then it has hosted hundreds of football games, and now plays host to Dayton’s rugby league. The historic facility seats 5,000 people and is surrounded by plenty of green space.
Sports Venues in Cincinnati
Cincinnati sits just north of the Ohio River on the Kentucky border. It certainly reigns supreme when it comes to sports. After all, the city is known as the birthplace of baseball with the Reds being the first major league team in the country.
Cincinnati’s baseball pride runs deep, and nowhere is that more evident than Great American Ball Park, home of the Reds. The stadium, located on the banks of the river, offers seating for 42,271 spectators and spectacular views of the city. Apart from innovative construction and technology, the park has statues and plaques dedicated to the history of baseball in the city.
Lindner Family Tennis Center plays host to the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters & Women’s Open. It features 16 hard surface courts, a hospitality center, food court and plenty of open space to set up equipment and booths for your tournament.
Cincinnati Gardens is an indoor sports arena that has been around since the 1940s. It has played host to a range of major and minor league sports events, as well as collegiate and amateur sports matches. The arena can seat over 11,000 spectators for any number of athletic events. It is mainly used for basketball and boxing, but also can accommodate hockey, indoor soccer, arena football, roller derby, wrestling and rodeo.
Cincinnati has universities with some of the best athletic programs in the state. Xavier University’s Cintas Center is where the college’s basketball and volleyball teams compete. The 15,000-square-foot venue can be used for multiple sporting events and can easily be transformed into its practice-set mode, which creates six half-court basketball playing areas, perfect for hosting large tournaments with numerous teams. It seats over 10,000.
Ohio’s long sports lineage and convenient location makes it a highly sought after place to host tournaments and athletic events. Sports planners will find that all cities in the state are welcoming, helpful and passionate when it comes to putting on any kind of sporting event. So when it comes time to plan your sports team’s next event, consider the Buckeye State.