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Uncertainty looms over St. John Arena’s fate


St. John Arena is located at 410 Woody Hayes Drive and hosts sports including men’s and women’s volleyball, wrestling and gymnastics. OSU officials said it is ‘undetermined’ what will happen to the arena once a new facility is built.
Credit: Ryan Robey / For The Lantern

More than one year after the announcement of a $10 million donation to build a new Ohio State athletic facility, there are still no plans in place for what will come of long-standing St. John Arena.

OSU athletics spokesman Dan Wallenberg said in an email St. John’s use when the new arena is built in tentatively 2015 is still “undetermined.”

“The university will develop the space,” Wallenberg said. “We don’t have information on how that space will be used.”

Covelli Arena is set to house the sports currently played at St. John when its built, including volleyball, gymnastics and wrestling, Wallenberg said.

Covelli Enterprises owner and CEO Sam Covelli donated $10 million to the OSU athletics department in November 2012 to aid in the construction of a 4,000-seat, multi-sport arena.

Wallenberg said Covelli Arena is set to be built on the corner of Ackerman Road and Fred Taylor Drive. St. John Arena is located at 410 Woody Hayes Drive, about a mile away.

OSU spokesman Gary Lewis said future plans for St. John have not yet been finalized.

“The university in conjunction with athletics has not determined the timeline nor the future use of the property where St. John Arena is currently located,” Lewis said in an email.

St. John Arena was built in November 1956 for about $4 million and seats nearly 13,300.

A Nov. 21, 2012, university press release said the Covelli Arena will also have administrative offices, training facilities for men’s and women’s volleyball, space for women’s basketball to occasionally use as a venue and meeting facilities for most of the athletic department’s nearly 13,000 annual campers who participate in Department of Athletics programs.

Meanwhile, the Greater Columbus Sports Commission’s schedule of sporting events includes bids for a variety of events it intends to hold at St. John in the coming years, according to its website.

The Greater Columbus Sports Commission was created in 2002 to “attract professional, collegiate, amateur and youth sporting events to Greater Columbus,” according to the organization’s website.

Some of the events released on the bid list to be held at St. John include the national collegiate men’s volleyball finals for the years 2015-18, the NCAA division one women’s volleyball regionals for the years 2015-17, the national collegiate women’s gymnastics regionals for the years 2015-18 and the national collegiate men’s gymnastics finals for the years 2016-17.

Linda Logan, the executive director for the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, said it doesn’t matter whether St. John itself is still in place, though.

“We have every confidence that wherever the homes of the gymnastics and volleyball teams are, (they) will be at least the same caliber of St. John Arena or new and improved,” Logan said.

OSU women’s volleyball coach Geoff Carlston told The Lantern in 2012 that St. John has been a special place for athletes and coaches.

“There’s so much nostalgia built in with that building, and you feel it. You feel it when you’re in there,” Carlston said. “There’s an aura to it. It feels like a lot has happened in there, and the reality is it has.”

Lauren Cox, a third-year in human development and family science, said the tradition of watching the OSU Marching Band perform before football games at St. John Arena should be maintained.

“The tradition with the band going in with Skull Session is a really neat tradition and it has been held in there for a really long time,” Cox said. “I would be sad to hear that go.”


Pat Brennan contributed to this article.


  1. David Greer ('67, '69, Sphinx '66)

    Here’s a radical thought for the administrators and fund raisers. Why not persuade a donor to acquire naming rights, not for a NEW edifice, but for the restoration/perpetual maintenance of this true campus landmark?
    Why must we always celebrate the “new and Improved” and fail to cherish the old and reliable?
    The memory of Fred Taylor alone requires at least this much!

  2. Demolishing St. John Arena and so killing off the pre-game Skull Session will cost the University in lost donations more than enough to keep it open and running for decades. Ohio State needs to think more carefully before destroying one its most popular traditions, and one that generates so much attention and good will for the institution.

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