If you’re anything like us here at Columbus Parent, you’re thrilled that the Columbus Blue Jackets are back in the rink (albeit for an abbreviated season). Not only are the hockey games a huge economic stimulus for the Arena District and surrounding area, they provide some good old-fashioned family entertainment.
Caroline Aucoin, wife of Blue Jackets defenseman Adrian Aucoin, typically brings their five children, ages 3 to 12, to weekend games at Nationwide Arena.
“They love everything,” explained Aucoin. “My older ones actually really understand the game, and the little ones love the atmosphere. It’s a fun environment, and the arena is really exciting.”
Whether you’re a seasoned hockey fan or a newbie just joining the bandwagon and hoping to take a picture with Stinger, we’ve got some insider tips and advice on attending a Blue Jackets game with your family.
The easiest way to purchase single game tickets is through the Blue Jackets website, bluejackets.nhl.com (which connects to Ticketmaster). One of the best deals is the Family Value Pack, which starts at $25 per person (for upper bowl; lower bowl rate begins at $59) and includes some eats and a drink.
And for deal-seekers, a lucky 250 fans per game can score a Huntington Green Seat, which sells for $10 a ticket starting two hours prior to game time. Get there early, because these sell quickly!
For those families who have children with special needs, there is handicapped accessible seating. It’s important, explained the Jackets’ communications director Karen Davis, to make the need for such seating known when purchasing tickets.
There’s a multitude of food choices within Nationwide Arena itself, but one can’t-miss is the Front Street Market. Located outside of Section 110, the market is new this season and features grab-and-go options. “It’s all about convenience,” said Davis. You’ll find items like string cheese, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and yogurt parfaits.
Also be on the lookout for the Stinger Meal for kids, which is available at various stations through the arena. For $5.25, the youngsters will get a hot dog, soda, chips and cookies.
If eating pre-game at a restaurant is more up your alley, the Arena District is chock full of options. You’ll find Boston’s the Gourmet Pizza, Max & Erma’s, BD’s Mongolian Barbeque and Buca di Beppo all along Nationwide Boulevard and within walking distance.
Around The Arena
The actual hockey game isn’t the only entertainment the Blue Jackets provide for kids. Every home game the doors open an hour before the puck drops, leaving ample time to explore Nationwide Arena.
For the little ones, stop at the IGS Energy Zone. This staffed play area includes a mini hockey rink with a soft floor and padded hockey sticks. Children between 36 and 60 inches tall can partake in the fun, and there is some seating around the area for parents to watch and wait.
Tweens and teens might want to look out for the promotions team, which wanders around during the hour before the game for fan interaction. And don’t forget to find Stinger, the friendly team mascot! “Stinger is always roaming and accessible,” said Davis. “It’s not hard to spot him.”
Aucoin agreed, noting that her kids love walking around the arena and searching for Stinger. She also keeps them occupied by taking them to the team store, she said. Nationwide features a FOX Sports Ohio Blue Line store, with plenty of Jackets paraphernalia. It’s also open all year long, so you can get your hockey merchandise even when the team isn’t playing.