The 2014 Arnold Sports Festival will begin in just one week. The Arnold Sports Festival is the largest multi-sport event in the United States. The four day event held in Columbus, Ohio plays host to over 18,000 athletes in more than 45 sports. Along with the athletes, the festival attracts more than 175,000 fitness fanatics each year.
The main attraction for bodybuilding fans is the Arnold Classic. The invite only event brings the world’s best IFBB Pro Bodybuilders to Columbus. Every year the Arnold Classic prejudging and finals are held at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium however this will be the final year for the event at the historic building.
The Veterans Memorial was dedicated on November 11, 1955, to honor the men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Over the years, the Vets Memorial has played host to a variety of events. One of the most significant events was in 1970. Thousands of fans witnessed Arnold Schwarzenegger being awarded the Mr. World title. In 1989, Arnold returned to Columbus and partnered with Jim Lormier to host the first annual Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic.
“The Arnold”, as it is known locally, makes the auditorium the center of the weightlifting and physical fitness universe every March. Today the event is the largest multi-sport festival in the nation and a bronze statue of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s classic bodybuilding pose is prominently located on the south lawn of Veterans Memorial.
A report by Columbus Business First confirmed rumors that the Franklin County Veterans Memorial will be demolished. The city of Columbus has decided to redevelop the site and will move forward with what it calls the Scioto Peninsula plan, which includes a new Ohio Veterans Memorial and Museum, a Columbus Zoo Indoor Adventure exhibit, mixed-use development and park and recreation space.
Efforts were made to save the iconic auditorium with a renovation plan. The Veterans Memorial board proposed a $50-million to $60-million renovation plan of their own. The photo above was a proposed look to the auditorium however the efforts were not approved.
Earlier this month, the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation issued a Request for Qualifications for the construction of the new Ohio Veterans Memorial and Museum Project.
Those in attendance for the 2014 Arnold will be part of history. If you haven’t purchased your tickets for the Arnold Classic, Arnold Classic 212, Fitness International, Figure International or Bikini International do so now. This will be your last chance to witness the events in the historic auditorium.
I’m told that the 2015 Arnold Classic events will be held at the convention center however nothing has been finalized as to exactly where. While it will be nice to have all the events in the same location and not have to worry about hailing a cab or finding parking, a little bit of the character will be lost. Like anything in life you have to expect change and embrace the good with the bad. I’ll make a little extra time to savor the events that take place this year in the auditorium. I’d encourage those of you in attendance to do the same and if you’re watching the webcast, know you’ll be witnessing history in the making as the events take place for the last time in the auditorium.