COLUMBUS, Ohio — Welcome back, St. John Arena.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association announced Thursday morning the 2020 girls basketball state tournament and the 2021 boys basketball state tournament will be played at The Ohio State University’s St. John Arena.
Both state tournaments coincide with OSU’s spring break, which will allow for better parking options for spectators, the OHSAA said in a release.
“We are excited to return to St. John Arena, where many schools and basketball fans have great memories,” OHSAA Executive 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.”
The 2020 boys basketball state tournament will continue to be played at the Schottenstein Center and is scheduled for March 19-21.
The sites for the 2021 girls basketball state tournament and the 2022 boys and girls tournaments have yet to be determined.
The OHSAA boys basketball state tournaments were held at St. John Arena from 1957-1985 and 1988-1998. St. John Arena has a seating capacity of 13,276.
The 2021 weekend at St. John Arena will mark the 99th annual state boys basketball tournament.
Multiple area teams were involved in the boys state tournament the most recent time it was played at St. John Arena in 1998. Withrow was a Division I state semifinalist, Badin was a Division II state semifinalist and Indian Hill was the Division III state runner-up.
The Schottenstein Center opened in 1998 and has hosted the boys basketball state tournaments since 1999. Moeller won the first of its five Division I state titles at the Schottenstein Center in 1999. The Schottenstein Center has an approximate basketball capacity of 19,000.
Moeller won its second straight state boys basketball title this past March and its fifth overall in March in front of 8,675 at The Schott.
Moeller (29-0) became the first Division I state boys’ basketball champion to be undefeated since Zanesville (26-0) in 1995. The Crusaders became the first D-I boys’ team to win back-to-back titles since Canton McKinley in 2005 and ’06.
Nov. 1 is the first day of boys basketball practice this season, and the games officially begin Nov. 27.
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 Arena due to the OSU men’s ice hockey team hosting a conference playoff series at the Schottenstein Center.
St. John Arena has been unavailable for OHSAA district, regional and state tournament contests, as it has been the practice and competition home of OSU women’s and men’s volleyball, women’s and men’s gymnastics and wrestling teams. However, OSU’s new Covelli Center is now open, which is the new home for those OSU sports.
Starting on a Thursday, the 2020 girls basketball state tournament will be at St. John Arena March 12-14.
The OHSAA announced this past April the tournament would leave the Schottenstein Center after being played there since 2006.
“It’s a really exciting time to have the state tournament back at St. John Arena,” Ohio Girls’ Basketball Director Bryce McKey told WCPO. “The atmosphere will undoubtedly be electric for three days as the best of the best compete for their ultimate goal.”
Mount Notre Dame won the 2019 Division I state girls' basketball title in front of 3,456 March 16 at the Schottenstein Center.
MND tied Pickerington Central (including old Pickerington High School) and Columbus Africentric Early College as the only Ohio schools to win seven state girls’ basketball titles.
MND played at St. John Arena twice before in the state tournament including being the Division I state runner-up in 2005 and a Division II state semifinalist in 1989.
"There is so much history in that place," MND coach Dr. Scott Rogers told WCPO. "It has that old-school gym feel. I am sure every coach would want to play there."
Prior to moving into the Schottenstein Center in 2000, 23 of the 24 state girls’ basketball tournaments were held at St. John Arena.
“Ohio historically is one of the three strongest states for girls basketball in America,” McKey said. “This venue will show off the incredible support of our fanbases and give a much more up-close feel to the state tournament.”
Rogers said he's glad the state tournament didn't move to Northeast Ohio.
"I was happy they kept it in Columbus," Rogers said. "Ohio State has always treated us great."
Oct. 25 is the first official day of practice for girls basketball statewide and the season begins Nov. 22.
The OHSAA’s 2020 individual wrestling state tournament at the Schottenstein Center will begin on Friday, March 13, and conclude Sunday, March 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.”
St. John Arena, which was completed in November 1956, was formerly the home of Ohio State basketball for 42 seasons. The arena is named for former Ohio State basketball coach and athletic director, L.W. St. John.