Ohio State Reportedly Has No Plans to Play Basketball Games in St. John Arena Again, Gene Smith Says “I Doubt We’ll Go Back”

By Kevin Harrish on July 8, 2020 at 11:19 am
St. John Arena

For the past two seasons, the Buckeyes have played a men's basketball game in St. John Arena. But there's no game slated in the historic arena this season, and it doesn't sound like they'll be any more in the near future, either.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith, in an interview with Buckeye Sports Bulletin, said that there are no plans for the team to return to St. John Arena for a game in the foreseeable future, citing fewer home games than previous years.

“I think it was just a special occasion,” Smith told BSB. “I doubt we’ll go back. I just don’t see it. This year, I think we have 16 home games. In the years we’ve had 19, 20 or 21 home games, it’s easier to take one over there, but we’re not going to be able to do that when we have 18 or less.”

Smith's comments are a change of tune from how the program has discussed St. John Arena in recent years.

When the Buckeyes returned to their historic home for a game against Cleveland State in 2018, Chris Holtmann said Ohio State would like to return to St. John Arena annually, even suggesting the team might play two games in the arena – potentially even a conference game.

“We have talked about it a little bit and kind of tossed around that idea,” Holtmann said back in 2018. “We want to get some feedback on how this night was, and I know logistically it's a lot of work. There are questions about the amenities, but it's not something that we have said no to. We have considered it. Is it something we'll do? Would we do two games a year? I don't think it would be more than that. But I do think we'd like to make it an annual thing, and we have talked about potentially a Big Ten opponent.”

Ultimately, that decision comes down to finances. Smith said that Ohio State does take a financial hit when it plays in St. John Arena, and with fewer home games on the horizon, that financial hit is harder to take.

“When we’re playing in these big events, it makes it very difficult to go back to when we’re playing 19, 20, 21 home games,” Smith told BSB. “We need at least 18 home games in the Schott if we can get them, so it’s going to be very hard for us to go over to St. John. We did take a hit when we went over there last year, and I just can’t do that again.”

The Buckeyes will kick off the season in the Schottenstein Center on Nov. 11 with a home matchup against Oakland.

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