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Opinion: Ohio State deserves better than Value City Arena

The home of Buckeye basketball since 1998 ranked 152nd in Stadium Journey’s ranking of the 347 Division I basketball arenas.

NCAA Basketball: Wisconsin at Ohio State Joseph Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

“Buckeye fans are some of the craziest, loudest, loving, hating, passionate fan bases in all of sports. The city seems to cry the day after a football loss, riots break out in the street after beating that team up North or taking home a National Title and the Buckeyes are the best in every sport, every time. When it comes to basketball, these fans are still here but lack the obsessive nature of the football program.”

- Miles Markiewicz, Stadium Journey

It doesn’t matter if you are calling it Value City Arena or Schottenstein Center, you can’t put lipstick on a pig. Value City Arena has been the home of the Ohio State Buckeyes’ basketball team since 1998, and while there have been a number of memorable moments at the corner of Olentangy River Road and Lane Avenue, the arena leaves a lot to be desired.

There is an obvious problem when Stadium Journey ranked Value City Arena as the 152nd basketball arena among the arenas that the 347 Division I basketball teams play at. There’s no excuse for 11 other Big Ten teams ranking ahead of the Buckeyes when it comes to the basketball arena that they play in. Value City Arena was built almost like a professional arena, and while there are more than enough Ohio State students and fans to fill the arena, the size of Value City Arena should have been reined in a little when it was built.

After spending over 40 years at St. John Arena, it eventually became time for Ohio State basketball to move into some new digs. Capacity for basketball games was expanded by over 5,000 people, but in this case, less is more. While there have been some exceptions, attending games at Value City Arena isn’t the most entertaining experience.

Maybe as Buckeye fans we are spoiled by football games at Ohio Stadium, where we are blessed to watch one of the best football teams in the country play in one of college football’s most historic venues. Ohio State’s college basketball team is annually in contention for a spot in the NCAA Tournament, and has made the Final Four twice since 2007. Those who suit up in the scarlet and gray to play on the hardwood deserve better.

The flaws of Value City Arena are even more apparent when comparing it to an arena just a few miles down the road. Nationwide Arena opened two years after Value City Arena and there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. You don’t even feel that far away when sitting in the nosebleeds in Nationwide, while at Value City Arena it feels like you are watching from another county. While it has taken a while for the Columbus Blue Jackets to find success, when Nationwide Arena gets rocking you can really feel it. That same feeling is rarely present at Value City Arena.

Ohio State has made changes to try and enhance the atmosphere and experience at Value City Arena, but those changes haven’t really landed. The student section was moved from the end of the court to the sideline, and while the Buckeye Nuthouse does their best to try and give Ohio State a home court advantage, the students don’t get a ton of help from the rest of the arena. The other fans, who are interested in making noise, are stuck at the top of Value City Arena, while the blue hairs and big-money spenders sit silently, front and center.

It’s not just basketball games that suffer. I’m always disappointed when it is announced that one of my favorite musical acts is coming to Columbus and playing at Value City Arena. Out of all the music venues in and around the Columbus area, Value City Arena is by far my least favorite place to see a show. The sound isn’t nearly as good as a lot of other concert venues, and the same can be said for basketball games.

Unfortunately, Ohio State is stuck playing at the soulless Value City Arena for quite some time. With the building being just over 20 years old, there’s no way that a new building will be in the works any time soon, especially with space in and around campus filling up at a rapid pace. With no fix coming when it comes to the arena, all Ohio State fans can hope is that the basketball team continues to play at the high level that they have shown for most of the last 15 years to give fans something to get loud about.