Upcoming Ohio boys and girls basketball tournaments are moving across the street and back to their former home.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced on Thursday two upcoming state basketball tournaments will return to St. John Arena in Columbus.
The 2020 girls basketball state tournament and the 2021 boys basketball state tournament will move to the arena, which is nearby the Schottenstein Center on Ohio State’s campus.
The site of the 2021 girls tournament is still to be determined. The 2020 boys tournament will remain at the Schottenstein Center.
The OHSAA boys basketball state tournaments were held at St. John Arena from 1957-1985 and 1988-1998. The Schottenstein Center opened in 1998 and has hosted the boys basketball state tournaments since 1999.
“We are excited to return to St. John Arena, where many schools and basketball fans have great memories,” OHSAA director Jerry Snodgrass said in a statement. “The Schottenstein Center and its staff have been great partners of the OHSAA, but there are some upcoming scheduling conflicts with OSU basketball and ice hockey teams on our state tournament dates, as well as parking concerns, so we have been talking with OSU about returning to St. John Arena.”
Attendance at both tournaments has declined drastically in the last decade. The boys tournament drew 66,895 fans last year compared to 2009 when it drew 145,801.
St. John Arena has a seating capacity of 13,276, which is over 5,000 fewer than the Schottenstein Center.
The OHSAA girls basketball state tournaments were held at St. John Arena from 1976-1985 and 1987-1999 before moving to the Schottenstein Center in 2000, where they have remained every year except 2005 when the girls returned to St. John because of Ohio State men’s ice hockey team hosting a Big Ten playoff series.
Both the 2020 girls and 2021 boys state tournaments will coincide with Ohio State’s spring break, which the OHSAA said will allow for better parking options for spectators.
St. John Arena has been unavailable for OHSAA district, regional and state tournament contests because it was used as the practice and game home of Ohio State’s women’s and men’s volleyball, women’s and men’s gymnastics and wrestling teams. However, Ohio State recently opened the Covelli Center, which will serve as the new home for those sports.
Starting on a Thursday, the 2020 girls basketball state tournament will be at St. John Arena March 12-14. The OHSAA’s 2020 individual wrestling state tournament will be at the Schottenstein Center from March 13-15.
“We anticipate that our individual wrestling state tournament will remain at the Schottenstein Center for years to come, but our basketball state tournaments are more flexible and the scheduling conflicts at the Schottenstein Center those weekends are a reality,” Snodgrass said. “We will continue to discuss our basketball state tournaments format and scheduling with our staff, Board of Directors and the staff of the Schottenstein Center and Ohio State University Athletics Department. We will work together to ensure our state tournaments remain premier events.”