(Columbus, February 27, 2018)  -- The 30th Arnold Classic, the professional bodybuilding competition that is the foundation of the Arnold Sports Festival, will be among the events hosted by the SMG-managed Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC) during the return of the world’s largest multi-sport festival.


“This will be the biggest and best Arnold Sports Festival we’ve ever had,” said Jim Lorimer, chief executive officer of Classic Productions, Inc. and co-founder of the festival. “Arnold Schwarzenegger has been coming to Columbus for more than 40 years and we began the Arnold Classic 30 years ago this year.  We have a long and wonderful history together. When the convention center opened, that’s when people started coming from around the world.”


“It is exciting to see how far we have come with the festival.  Our goal was to promote the competitive side of bodybuilding to gain respect, but one thing led to another and here we are,” said Arnold Schwarzenegger, the festival co-founder. “You always need a reason to celebrate and this festival will be the best ever. We want to make the world a healthier place and everyone is welcome.”


The festival is expected to attract more than 200,000 attendees from dozens of nations, nearly 22,000 participating athletes, 1,100 Arnold Fitness EXPO booths, 16 Olympic sports and 78 total sports and events scheduled at 13 venues. There will be 100 local hotels booked by attendees during their stay. The festival also utilizes the services of a 600-person volunteer medical team staffing 30 stations and hundreds of additional general volunteers.



The 12 new events this year are Alliance Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), axe throwing, body painting, Classic Physique for amateurs and professionals, two education forums, kid’s splash and dash, pickleball, racquetball, Terminator Fight Series and UMG Gaming.


Art at the Arnold will have a new location in the North Atrium, near the GCCC’s popular “As We Are” interactive sculpture.


The new Arnold Classic Championship Axe Throwing event will include a chance for any attendee over age 18 to try throwing for free on March 2. Tournament-qualifying throws will be held on March 3 and the championship round for the top 16 throwers on March 4.


The festival events at the GCCC are:

·         30th Arnold Classic

·         Alliance MMA

·         Amateur Boxing

·         Amateur Strongman 

·         Armwrestling

·         Arnold Amateur NPC Bodybuilding, Fitness Figure, Bikini and Physique

·         Arnold Classic 212

·         Arnold Classic Pro Wheelchair

·         Arnold Classic Physique

·         Arnold Fitness EXPO

·         Arnold Men’s Physique

·         Arnold Model Search

·         Arnold Sunday Showcase & Coffee With the Champions

·         Art at the Arnold

·         Axe Throwing

·         Bench Press

·         Bikini International

·         Body Painting

·         Chess 

·         CrossFit Endeavor

·         Dance Fitness and Yoga

·         Educational Seminars: Performance Forum and Regenerative Medicine

·         Figure International

·         Fitness International

·         Grappling

·         Indoor Scottish Highland Games

·         Jump Rope (and at Ohio Expo Center)

·         Kettlebell

·         MAS Wrestling

·         MMA Workshop

·         Pole Fitness Amateur Championship Series

·         Pole Fitness Pro Championships Series

·         Pump & Run/5K Run

·         Rowing

·         Spartan Obstacle Course

·         Strongman Classic

·         Strongwoman Pro

·         Teen Challenge

·         Terminator Fight Series

·         UMG Gaming

·         USA Powerlifting

·         Weightlifting

·         Women’s Physique International

·         XPC Powerlifting & PowerX (and at Ohio Expo Center)


Within the GCCC, there will be four stages providing entertainment – Arnold Fitness EXPO Stage, Rogue Strength Stage, Concourse Stage and Midway Labs USA Stage.


A focal point of the festival is the popular 1,100-booth Arnold Fitness EXPO in Exhibit Halls A-D with a huge array of sports equipment, apparel, nutritional products, competitions and entertainment. 


Arnold Fitness EXPO general admission hours are:

  • Friday, March 2 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

  • Saturday, March 3 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

  • Sunday, March 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Arnold Fitness EXPO tickets are $15 per adult per day in advance at and $20 at the door per day. Kids age 14 and younger are admitted free with an adult paying admission. Baby strollers are not permitted within the EXPO. 


Free shuttles will operate between the GCCC and Ohio Expo Center from March 2-4.


“We’re proud to offer an expanded and enhanced convention center to the festival. The Arnold Sports Festival will be utilizing new spaces this year to the fullest extent as a result of our 22-month expansion and renovation that was underway during the past two festivals,” said GCCC General Manager John R. Page. “We are honored to contribute to the growth of this event that is now presented on six continents.”


The Greater Columbus Convention Center is located in downtown Columbus and owned by the Franklin County Convention Facilities Authority and managed by SMG. The $140 million expansion and renovation of the facility was completed in July 2017.


Founded in 1977, SMG provides management services to 233 public assembly facilities including convention and exhibition centers, arenas, stadiums, theaters, performing arts centers, amphitheaters, equestrian facilities, science centers and a variety of other venues. With facilities across the globe, SMG manages more than 15 million square feet of exhibition space and more than 1.5 million sports and entertainment seats. As the recognized global industry leader, SMG provides venue management, sales, marketing, event booking and programming, construction and design consulting, and pre-opening services for such landmark facilities as McCormick Place & Soldier Field in Chicago, Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, Houston’s NRG Park and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. SMG also offers food and beverage operations through its concessions and catering companies, currently serving more than 140 accounts worldwide.


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