After more than two decades, the Arnold Sports Festival is both well-known and ever-changing, as organizers constantly push to grow its popularity and reach. The Arnold returns in grand style this year for its 23rd edition from March 5-8, and there are fresh exhibitions, sports and venues galore. We’ve highlighted some new additions and notable changes to help guide you through the biggest weekend in fitness.
Bye Bye Vets, Hello Expo Center
The largest change is the recent demolition of Vets Memorial, a long-standing venue for Arnold events. As a result, organizers have been forced to shuffle much of the weekend’s programming, with the Ohio Expo Center now offering a home to several sports and exhibits. Free shuttles will run between the Convention Center and the Expo Center, and daily tickets ($10 in advance, $15 at the door) are good for both locations. Here are the events that have been moved to the Expo Center from other venues:
Archery Lausche Building (formerly at Vets)
Cheerleading and Dance Celeste Center
(formerly at Convention Center)
CrossFit Endeavor Coliseum (formerly at Convention Center)
Table Tennis Voinovich Center (formerly at Convention Center)
XPC Powerlifting Rhodes Center (formerly at Convention Center)
The other major change is the bodybuilding competitions and shows will move from Vets to the Battelle Grand ballroom in the Convention Center.
Big Fun for Kids
The largest addition to the program this year is the Arnold Kids Fitness Expo, which will be held Saturday and Sunday in the Bricker Building at the Expo Center. The main stage will feature plenty of entertainment, including the Arnold’s Kids Got Talent! show hosted by Chris Kirkpatrick of *NSYNC from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday and a chess match between eight-year-old Emma Chang of Dublin and Arnold himself at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The expo will also introduce kids to a wide range of sports, with interactive exhibits and demonstrations from the Columbus Crew, Spartan Race, Cyclone Gymnastics, World Jump Rope and many more.
Fun for Big Kids
The other newcomer is the WWE Experience on Saturday and Sunday at the Convention Center, which will include meet-and-greets, autograph signing, Q&A sessions with legends and live tryouts and matches from WWE’s Next Generation talent.
Those aren’t the only new sports and entertainment options this year, though, as The Arnold will also feature disc golf (Expo Center – Ohio Historical Society grounds), equestrian (Expo Center – Cooper Arena), pickleball (Expo Center – Buckeye Building) and POWER X (Expo Center – Rhodes Center), a new breed of weightlifting competition.