Nationwide Arena is a sports and entertainment arena in Columbus, Ohio. It opened in 2000 and is the home of the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League. Nationwide Arena is also one of three facilities in Columbus (along with the Greater Columbus Convention Center and the Franklin County Veterans Memorial Auditorium) that hosts events as part of the annual Arnold Classic, a sports and fitness event hosted by former professional bodybuilder and current California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The venue is named for the arena's owner, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, whose world headquarters are located across the street. Nationwide's real estate development affiliate, Nationwide Realty Investors, financed and developed the project—making it one of very few privately financed arenas in the nation.
The arena is of a brick design and serves as the center of an entertainment district located about one half mile north of the Ohio State Capitol. Seating capacity is approximately 18,136 for hockey, 17,171 for arena football, 19,500 for basketball, and up to 20,000 for concerts. The death of 14 year old Brittanie Cecil from injuries sustained from a hockey puck flying into the stands at a Blue Jackets game in 2002 led to the installation of nylon netting to catch pucks that fly over the acrylic glass at all professional ice hockey arenas in the NHL, AHL, and ECHL.
The area surrounding Nationwide Arena, appropriately called the Arena District, houses a variety of bars, clubs and a movie theater. Constructed as a seamless entity, Columbus uses the arena as a drawing point for the city with the various other establishments feeding off of the foot traffic. The Lifestyle Communities Pavilion concert venue, and Arena Grand Theatre adjacent to the Nationwide Arena property, completes the entertainment complex.