Ohio Stadium: Watching a Buckeyes game at Ohio State

Ohio Stadium visitor guide

Feared by most and the pride of the city of Columbus, the Ohio State University’s Ohio Stadium is one of college football’s “OGs”. A rite of passage for many college football fans – particularly fans of schools in the Big Ten conference – Ohio Stadium is the United States’ sixth largest football stadium by capacity, and its iconic horseshoe shape makes it one of the more picturesque settings for catching some live action.

Housed in one of America’s most cosmopolitan college cities, a visit to see the Buckeyes and the city of Columbus should be high on any college football fan’s list, so read on for your best guide to watching football at “the ‘Shoe”.

Getting your tickets

Having planned your trip to Ohio, head to Sports Where I Am’s page for Columbus to see if a game is on while you’re in town. After that comes the hard part: deciding where to sit.

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Where to sit

Due to its distinctive horseshoe shape, there are a couple of quirks to consider when it comes to choosing your seats for a Buckeyes game.

The northern end of the ground is where the horseshoe curves (so to speak), meaning seats on the lower levels are further away from the field than their counterparts on the sidelines or on the southern side of the ground. While the view will not be bad, you simply won’t be as close to the action as you would in other sections of the ground.

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Ohio Stadium has more than 100,000 seats, so you’re sure to bag a decent view wherever you sit.

The southern end – or the flat section which joins the horseshoe – is the student section, meaning if you buy tickets for any seats in the 30 sections (aside from 30A and 30C), you will require a student ID for entry.

Another thing to consider with outdoor stadiums is how the sun will behave throughout the afternoon (if indeed it does shine at all). At Ohio Stadium in autumn, the sun will stay low in the south and set to the west, meaning those in the northern and north-eastern sections of the ground (roughly sections 15A and 15C – 1A and 1C, and 2A and 2C to 16A and 16C) will need to think about taking a hat or sunnies if the forecast looks pleasant.

Being an outdoor stadium, undercover protection from the elements is limited. You can, of course, pay a little extra to sit in the B sections which are positioned under the overhang of the C sections above them, but there aren’t many available and these are often sold to corporates and high-rollers.

Ohio Stadium seat map.
Ohio Stadium seat map.

Our top picks? It’s hard to go wrong at Ohio Stadium, but a seat in one of the first few rows of the C section across the sideline is hard to beat. For a better atmosphere, find seats close to the student section and join in the fun.

Getting to Ohio Stadium

Public transport

From downtown, the COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority) runs two bus lines which will get you within walking distance the stadium, the No. 1 and the No. 8 bus.

Parking

Those wishing to park nearby will need to either make their way to the Ohio Expo Center to then jump on the shuttle service to the ground, or risk trying to find street parking in the nearby residential streets. There is limited parking at the stadium, most of which is allocated to tailgating.

Ridesharing

Ridesharing is the easiest and most convenient way to get to the Ohio Stadium.

From downtown, getting dropped off at the stadium (or, more realistically, within a short walk of the stadium) will set you back around US$15.

We suggest you set your drop-off point a few blocks short of the stadium, as there are many cool things to see and do on North High Street.

What to do before and after the game

The tailgating scene around Ohio Stadium is excellent, and people are incredibly welcoming should you try to approach a tailgate with beer in hand and a smile on your face. While we wouldn’t recommend crashing a party, being friendly and bringing some drinks to share might get you an impromptu invite to a nearby open house party. East Lane Avenue is a good place to start off your pre-game.

Close to downtown is an area called Short North, which is home to a huge number of bars, pubs and restaurants serving football-friendly fare. It is a 45-minute walk from the stadium, but a game day stroll isn’t the worst thing to do considering the party atmosphere along North High Street in the lead-up to the action.

A bit closer to the stadium, The Gateway precinct on North High Street transforms into a pregame precinct called The TailGateway on game days, and opens up into a bustling open area for all your pre-game beer and snacks. The District PourHouse is the main attraction, with more than 20 screens, an excellent selection of beer and a fun-friendly patio open on game days.

While in town, it’s worth seeing if the city’s two professional sports teams are in action, as Columbus is home to both the Columbus Blue Jackets in the NHL and the Columbus Crew in the MLS.

Watching a game at Ohio Stadium

The people

Buckeyes fans are incredibly welcoming to foreigners, and anyone with an accent will likely get asked what exactly they’re doing in central Ohio. They’re also incredibly proud of their team, their band (known around the country as “The Best Damn Band in the Land” – or TBDBITL) and their stadium, so be prepared to humour them about the whole setup.

The Best Damn Band in the Land performs during the national anthem.
The Best Damn Band in the Land performs during the national anthem.

Naturally, a lot of Buckeyes fans will be college-aged students and will behave accordingly. The tailgating scene is typical of a college experience and the bars will be packed with friendly faces before (and after) games.

Fans of rival teams will encounter some friendly ribbing, but don’t start mouthing off about the team, city or stadium – particularly if you follow another successful Big Ten team (think Penn State, Michigan, etc.).

It’s also important to join in the festivities at the stadium, including by joining in the O-H-I-O chant which rings around the four corners of the stadium.

Concessions

As with most stadiums in the States, the cost of a beer and nachos is eye-wateringly pricey. Ever paid US$9 for a hot chocolate before? Be prepared to part with some serious cash unless you eat before the game.

One thing worth splashing out for, however, is a local bratwurst, considering the city of Columbus has a strong link to German migration. At one time, it was thought that German migrants made up around one third of the city’s population, so it’s little wonder the city’s German Village is one of the largest historic neighborhoods in the nation.

Taking a stadium tour

Tours of Ohio Stadium are offered year-round but unfortunately require pre-booking at a minimum cost of US$100. The idea is that large groups will book a tour of the stadium, and the website specifically says that no add-ons are allowed to another group’s tour.

While well worth it considering the stadium dates back to 1922 and houses some treasured memories and items from generations gone by, the tours are not cheap, and wandering the grounds surrounding the stadium is a rather enjoyable alternative for no cost.

Find out more details here.

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