Why Ohio State is staging basketball games at the Covelli Center this season


Ohio State’s Duane Washington, right, drives to the basket past UMass-Lowell’s Darion Jordan-Thomas during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ohio State has a new home away from home for its men’s and women’s basketball teams this season.

The Covelli Center, a 3,700-seat arena that opened in June 2019, is scheduled to play host to a basketball doubleheader Wednesday, with the women’s team playing Kent State at noon and the men’s team playing Morehead State at 5 p.m.

It will be the second appearance scheduled at the Covelli Center for each team. On Sunday, the men defeated UMass Lowell 74-64 and the women defeated Duquesne 82-47 there.

The switch last weekend was because of a scheduling conflict at Value City Arena with the Ohio State men’s hockey team. The Covelli Center worked out so well that it was decided to play there again, especially with no fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic and a stay-at-home advisory for Franklin County.

“With no fans involved, it was prudent to simply stage the basketball games at Covelli so as to not have to put down and pull up basketball floors multiple times over two days at Value City Arena,” an Ohio State athletic department spokesperson said. “Covelli worked so well that we’ve decided to play our two basketball games on Wednesday there as well.”

In recent seasons, when the basketball teams looked to an alternate venue from Value City Arena, it was to their former home court, St. John Arena. But the main floor at St. John was recently converted into a training facility so athletes from multiple Ohio State sports could work out and still maintain a safe distance to limit potential spread of the coronavirus.

St. John Arena in October 2020 (Photo courtesy Ohio State athletics)

The Covelli Center, located north of Value City Arena and Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium on Fred Taylor Drive, is the regular home of the Buckeyes’ programs for wrestling, volleyball, gymnastics and fencing, but it can accommodate basketball, too.

UMass-Lowell and Ohio State play to an empty arena during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

St. John Arena, which seats 13,276, was completed in 1956 and was the home of Ohio State basketball for 42 seasons. It is flanked by French Field House and the OSU Ice Rink, and Ohio State is in various stages of planning or building replacement facilities for the sports that still use those facilities.

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