Blue Jackets’ Fans Perspective of Nationwide Arena

Columbus Blue Jackets, Long Read, Nationwide Arena, Nick Foligno

The hockey world remains on pause. With no clear end in sight, we are left to wonder when we’ll see live games again. Nobody knows for sure at this time.

So while we pass the time, I thought this was a good time to get the fans involved. We asked and Columbus Blue Jackets’ fans responded in a big way. I took to social media and asked two things of the fans in regards to Nationwide Arena.

  • What is the most frustrating part of your gameday experience at Nationwide Arena?
  • What is your favorite part about being there for a Blue Jackets’ game?

Some obvious themes emerged. We will share with you their responses. Can you relate to what others are saying about their experience? We’ll start with frustrations and then end on a high with the best part of being there.

Nationwide Arena Frustrations

Traffic

I knew this answer was coming but it certainly applies in a big way at Nationwide Arena. If you’ve been to the area around the Arena District, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Imagine yourself trying to leave the game after a thrilling win.

The parking garages around the arena aren’t exactly easy to get out of. Whether you use McConnell, Marconi or another garage, this can sometimes be your most adventurous part of the night. I can only imagine what this is like right after the game. I can see this issue an hour after the game!

The way the garages are constructed, especially Marconi, isn’t ideal for traffic trying to leave the game. Basically there’s one exit to the garage and everyone on multiple floors is trying to get out. Say you get to your car and you’re ready to pull out, a lot of times you can’t because you’re going into the flow of traffic. Unless someone shows kindness to you, you’re stuck. And then even when you get to leave, there are merge points on different floors of the garage where you might have to let someone through anyway.

Bottom line: this is mass frustration. And I haven’t even mentioned the nights where the ticket reader doesn’t work and you’re stuck until the reader can read your ticket. I once stood there for 20 minutes trying to get the machine to read my ticket. It was cold and I wanted to go home. If it happened to me, I’m sure it’s happened to you.

Nationwide Arena can be a tricky place to leave after games. (THW Archives)

Fans clearly expressed this as a frustration. Here are what some of them said.

“My least favorite part is the traffic flow to the exits once the game is over.” -@amandanichole10

“LEAVING THE PARKING GARAGE. It’s takes so long!” -@bluejacketsdeke

“Traffic after the game,” -@Dlcb1

“Parking. Getting out of McConnell Garage is a nightmare.” -@AniRayne33

“Parking garages after the game. Is it really necessary for everyone to scan a ticket on the way out? Can’t they just open the gates so it’s a constant flow once the game is over?” -@dustin2008

“I guess leaving the parking garages, not always the most fun.” -@cbjmarner

You are not alone in the traffic thing. But if you are looking for an alternative, I’d suggest a couple of things. If you are willing to walk a bit, there are some garages a little further away where getting out is easier. There’s also public transportation options. If those don’t suit you, then prepare for postgame traffic flow especially around the arena when fans are crossing the street. Or, why not go to a restaurant postgame? By the time you leave, most of the traffic is gone.

Concessions & the Like

Of course this was going to be a popular answer. Prices are always a pressure point. But some fans brought up interesting points as well. Let’s see what some of the said.

“The concourse just gets beyond crowded hard to take in the arena.” -@cbjfan04

“Boring concessions and beer prices. Both are terrible. I wish the food selections focused more on local flavor rather than chains.” -@eric_seeds

“Lack of unique concessions considering the price. For a city with so much local food pride, CBJ games are pathetic.” -@la_coopa

“Concession stand lines.” -@JKS0207

“The restroom lines and concessions lines block the concourse from people moving around the arena during intermissions. They need to use stanchions and snake the lines so people can move through concourses better.” -@pfefferfeff

“Beer and food prices.” -@DerosaMindy

“Dislike, no clear walking paths in the concourse. Seriously people, make 2 lanes and stay in them. Makes it hard to walk through the arena at times.” -@curl_cj

Lines and concessions at Nationwide Arena have caused some pain for fans. (Dave Gainer/THW)

Two main things stand out here besides the obvious of pricing. Some mentioned the lack of food choices. Speaking from personal experience, I can see why they say that. I’ve been to arenas where there was more choices in food being served. The price was still high but that was to be expected. However it was different and I was happy.

Imagine if Nationwide Arena had say Hot Chicken Takeover as an option? You’d love that right? Or what about some options similar to what is in North Market? Heck even a Chipotle would be a huge hit in game. We’ll see if this gets addressed in future seasons. By looking at what others do, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in Columbus.

This leads us to the second point, moving around the concourse. This is very valid at Nationwide. Concession and restroom lines cram the area. But so do people who don’t move with the flow. They stop for no good reason and then I accidentally bump them. Or worse yet, those that are in a hurry and they bump me and don’t even acknowledge it. Ugh.

The way that I’ve danced around this in my experience is timing. In other words, try to do things at times where it’s not as busy. For instance, I get concessions at arenas when I first get there. Then as for the restroom, I try to use the media timeouts for that while most others are sitting.

Still, if you come to Nationwide Arena, be prepared to move around in very tights spaces. Speaking of tight spaces, there’s one more frustration we will discuss today.

Some fans think the seating is very cramped at Nationwide Arena. (Natalie Lutz/Flickr)

Seating and Leg Room

This one hit home with me when some fans mentioned this. Here is what they said in regards to the seating and leg room.

“Very tight seats in the upper bowl.” -@trevorlv31

“Seats are crammed together in NWA. I’d rather fly coach in the middle seat. Cup holders jam into your leg and drinks are easily spilled when someone gets out of their seat.” -@StraitChris

“Leg room – not an issue for me since I’m a shortie but my husband is very tall and very cramped in most sections.” -@shrieking_harpy

“I am a big guy. Getting a seat between seats is pretty tight and you’ll have to get up when the folks in the middle make 12 beer runs and 14 potty runs.” -@HillJackJDS

Yes the seating can be cramped in places. My knees are proof of that. Even walking through the seats during a morning skate I can’t avoid the cup holder because of how much they stick out. So imagine both a cramped seat and a cup holder all over the arena.

Some will be fine with this but for the tall people, I understand your frustration. Then if you find yourself in the middle of a row, you have more things to worry about when you have to let people get through to use the restroom or get to a concession. While some areas have extra room, most do not. Next time you’re at a game, prepare yourself for the possibility of a cramped seat. And watch out for those cup holders. They hurt!

Favorite Part of Nationwide Arena

The overwhelming answer by most was the atmosphere as it should be. If you’ve been to a playoff game or seen them on TV, you’ve seen how crazy Nationwide Arena gets. The end of the Tampa series perfectly illustrates the allure of the Blue Jackets’ experience. For a fan, that’s what it’s all about.

“The cannon. CBJ victories. Air Wolf.” -@MarkCorrell2

“Favorite part: The atmosphere. Warmups and seeing players up close, seeing my hockey friends, the excitement when they score, the goal song, the cannon blasts.” -@kmarie972

“The hug (Nick Foligno) after a win. Iconic.” -@MrAnonymousIII1

“The proximity to ice level. If you been to other arenas the nose bleeds are really nose bleeds. Fans are closer at NWA and it’s louder for that reason.” -@cbj34anderson

“Atmosphere and cannon. Best atmosphere in the NHL.” -@Bunny_Vance

“Enjoy the community feel of most of the fans.” -@CBJackalope55

“It feels like home and I’m with family.” -@cincyjacketsfa1

“Goal. For those about to rock *BOOM* and everything else about the fan base and the experience.” -Mike Ferguson

Alex Broadhurst
And who doesn’t love a good cannon blast? (Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)

The fans have made it clear about the atmosphere. Whether it’s the cannon blast, the goals, the cheering or how welcoming everyone is, there is truly no place like Nationwide Arena. While it has its flaws, the fanbase is truly together and fully behind their Blue Jackets.

Hockey will be back eventually. In the meantime, cherish the good moments you’ve had and what’s to come. Stay safe and we’ll all get together again at Nationwide Arena soon.

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