by Matt Weik
Every March, bodybuilding and fitness enthusiasts make the trip out to Columbus, Ohio, to attend the Arnold Classic (Arnold Sports Festival) – many of which come from other countries to support their fellow competitors, family, and favorite competitors. Then 2020 arrived and tainted the Arnold Classic forever.
2020 Arnold Classic Was a Disaster
The fact that COVID showed its ugly mug in 2020 is simply unfortunate. Bodybuilding and fitness shows all year have been inconvenienced, canceled, moved, and postponed. That said, the way the Arnold Classic was handled was a complete disaster, and the blame is shared between both the Arnold Classic and the city of Columbus.
It seems like the week of the Arnold Classic is when things started to unravel with COVID, and cities began to shut down. The city of Columbus was no exception – or was it?
Organizers of the Arnold Classic were going back and forth with the city of Columbus, trying to get answers as to if they can hold the expo, not hold the expo, have fans in attendance at the show, not have fans in attendance at the show, and the city was giving them the run-around.
At first, everything was a go. Then the city said no expo. Then the city said no spectators in attendance at all. Then they said the show was fine to go on as planned with spectators. Then, they said no, no one was allowed to be at the show at all. Meanwhile, the Arnold Classic organizers are trying to keep everyone up to speed with what’s going on, and all they were doing was creating confusion brought on by the city’s inability to give them a definite answer and stick to it.
In the end, fans were left hanging and found themselves losing a bunch of money due to travel, hotel, accommodations, etc., not being refunded. It’s also my understanding from what I’m hearing that vendors have not recouped their money from the expo and are still extremely frustrated with the Arnold Classic organizers. The organizers tried to help people out by putting their money towards the 2021 event, but even with that, they just announced 2021 Arnold Classic is postponed. It’s been one train wreck after the next with the Arnold Classic.
Due to the city of Columbus going back and forth on their decision, the Arnold Classic lost millions of dollars. Some may say the city as a whole lost millions of dollars by spectators not making their way to Columbus (even though refunds were few and far between). In the end, everyone lost.
Yet, here’s the interesting part of this. The city didn’t want people attending the Arnold Classic due to the potential spread of COVID, yet they allowed all of the other sporting events such as ice hockey to take place directly next door without an issue, and fans were allowed in attendance – thousands of them, mind you. Interesting, no?
The fact that the city allowed sporting events to continue yet shut down most of the Arnold Classic did not sit well with the Arnold Classic organizers, and they had some choice words for the city officials but then retracted them in an effort to play nice – which they shouldn’t have.
One thing that city officials are forgetting about is that the city of Columbus needs the Arnold Classic – not the other way around. The Arnold Classic has its roots in Columbus, but that doesn’t mean they can’t pack up shop and move elsewhere.
Columbus in March is horrible. You have people on both sides of the debate, but Columbus in March is COLD. To put it more bluntly, it’s miserable. If you’ve made the trip to the Arnold Classic over the years, you have experienced the cold, the rain, and the snow during the Arnold Classic weekend. Other than the show, the overall experience isn’t pleasant. Moving the Arnold Classic somewhere else (in my opinion) would be the best thing for the show.
With the Arnold Classic mentioning the postponement of the 2021 show, I think this is now setting the stage to have the entire event moved to another state (somewhere warmer). The recent announcement of the postponement (from what they have told us) is due to the continued risk of COVID, and they clearly don’t want to have a similar unfortunate event happen again in 2021 after they received a black eye from fans and vendors the year before.
Personally, I think organizers have been thinking about leaving Columbus for a while. The city hasn’t done them any favors over the years, so why should they stay? Again, the Arnold Classic doesn’t need the city of Columbus. If anything, the city should be kissing the organizer’s asses to keep it in Columbus, as anywhere the event is held will bring that city a ton of money.
I believe the postponement of the show was a blessing for the organizers and is giving them the ability to blame COVID for the need to move the Arnold Classic to another state and not look bad by blaming the city – which is what they probably really want to do for all the losses they caused the event.
Overall, I think we’ve seen the Arnold Classic in Columbus for the last time. And honestly, I’m ok with that. What are your feelings about this? Do you think the Arnold Classic is totally done and will never recover from the 2020 sh*t storm that took place? Do you feel the Arnold Classic will be back in Columbus in 2021? Or do you agree with me and think the Arnold Classic is done in Columbus and will be moving to another state? Let us know down in the comments.