March 10, 2016

Arnold Sports Festival – Expanding into New Territory with Continued Growth

The Arnold Sports Festival creates an annual aura of excitement radiating from the Columbus Convention Center and around the city, and this year was no exception.

The Arnold, held March 3-6 this year, featured new events, including a wheelchair bodybuilding championship and a new baton-twirling contest.

Harold Kelley of Dallas won the inaugural Arnold Classic Pro Wheelchair event, which not only featured the traditional poses and physiques, but also the stories of contestants’ courage as they recovered and overcame severe spinal cord injuries. The Columbus Dispatch coverage of the event captured some of the inspiration on video.

For tourism, the Arnold Sports Festival drew more than years past at 200,000 attendees and the kind of media attention only 700 reporters and editors can provide. For hotels, the out-of-town attendees and 18,000 athletic contestants, from 80 nations, created approximately 17,000 room nights at 80 central Ohio hotels. This year the festival generated over $51 million in economic impact, a number that continues to grow annually.

In addition to nearly 70 sports and events, the Arnold Sports Festival had something for social media mavens, too – an Instagram contest for the best photo featuring the bronze statue of Arnold Schwarzenegger, which poses just outside the Arnold Plaza entrance to the Convention Center. Check out some of the best #arnoldstatue.

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