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March 3, 2023

Just How Big is the Arnold Fitness Expo?

Arnold Fitness Expo

* The content of this article is from 2017 and republished on 3/3/23. The photo above is from 2023.

The Arnold Fitness Expo

I decided to fight the crowds and mass of humanity (and I mean mass) once again and attended the 2017 Arnold Fitness Expo – also known as the Arnold Sports Festival. Yes, that is “Arnold” as in Arnold Schwarzenegger.

You know a person has made it in life when people say just their first name and most people know who they are talking about. Having contrived names like Madonna and Prince don’t count, though.

How Big is the Arnold Fitness Expo?

How big is the Arnold – the Fitness Expo, not the man?  The Expo attracts 20,000 athletes from 80 countries participating in 70 events and sports. And, 200,000 sports enthusiasts from all over the globe watch them compete. And, those spectators can test their own skill by participating in over 20 hands-on clinics.

The Expo has been held annually in Columbus, Ohio since 1989. Once solely housed in the Columbus Convention Center, the Arnold Fitness Expo now has events held at 13 sites throughout Columbus.

Arnold Fitness ExpoEconomic Impact of the Arnold Fitness Expo

$54.1 million dollars. That is the economic impact the Arnold Fitness Expo has on the City of Columbus.

The Arnold Fitness Expo is an economic boom to the city of Columbus, Ohio. Those 200,000 fans and 20,000 competitors need lodging, restaurants and transportation (flight and ground). Guests alone fill over 17,000 hotel rooms.

Ohio State football rules Columbus. It dominates the sports’ pages and radio airwaves 24/7/365. But, one can argue that the Arnold Fitness Expo is bigger with a greater impact on the economy for Columbus.

Parking for the Expo is in demand and costs up to $30 dollars which is more than an Ohio State Football game and the 200,000 fans is nearly twice as much than the number that attend an Ohio State Football game – and many of them are staying for all four days of all-day competitions – not just a three-hour football game.

Let’s compare the economic impact of the Arnold Fitness Expo and other major events held in the Columbus area including Ohio State football games, the Memorial Golf Tournament, the Dublin Irish Festival (Dublin, Ohio), and the Ohio State Fair.

The Arnold versus All Others

  • The Memorial Golf Tournament, a four-day event, had an economic impact of $35 million in 2015 (Columbus CEO).  It is likely the tournament would not exist if not for corporate sponsorship, however.
  • The Dublin Irish Festival, the second largest Irish Festival in the United States each year, has an economic impact of $8.3 million with 100,000 guests attending the three-day event (Dublin Irish Festival website).
  • The 12 day Ohio State Fair had an economic impact of $84 million with 982,000 guests attending in 2015 (Columbus Business First).
  • Ohio State football generated $7.15 million in revenue per game in 2014 from tickets sales, parking, and concessions (The Lantern) however data related to total economic impact per game (hotel, restaurants, etc) could not be found. Typically there are six or seven home football games a year.

So when you compare the four day Arnold Fitness Expo to those events above one can make a solid argument that the Expo pound for pound (pun intended) provides the biggest bang for the buck for the Columbus area.

Why is the Fitness Expo so Big?

I’m not sure I really know. But, I think part of it is this. Everybody can become more fit. It does not take any great skill to become fit – just grit and determination. While lifting weights can require some skill it it not the same as developing a beautiful golf swing, throwing a baseball or football, dribbling a basketball past defenders, playing a musical instrument, or Irish clog dancing.

Everybody can become more fit. Not everybody can do those activities just mentioned and others. Many people want to improve their health and they way they look. And, when they go to the Arnold Fitness Expo they see competitors – everyday people just like them – who have done just that. If you want to see how fit one can get across all age groups, the Fitness Expo is the place to go.

So, The Arnold is big. No, it is “yuge” as The Donald might say. But, I don’t think The Arnold and The Donald care for each other much. Only The Donald would fire The Arnold. Apparently, being sitting President trumps being a former Governor (pun also intended). But, Arnold is probably loved by many more.

Read our other article: Arnold Sports Festival 2014: More Than Bodybuilding.



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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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