Arena concerts returning to Columbus in September

Country star Eric Church just announced a show at Nationwide Arena for Sept. 18

Andy Downing
Columbus Alive
Eric Church is scheduled to visit Nationwide Arena in September

With the number of vaccinations increasing daily, the city's small- to mid-sized venues have started to announce more concerts in recent weeks.

Ace of Cups resumed seated, masked and socially distanced indoor shows beginning in April, and in mid-March local booking agency Celebrity Etc. announced that music would return to both Rumba Cafe and the Athenaeum Theatre in June, with an eye on restarting full-capacity shows in the fall, including Dinosaur Jr. at the Athenaeum on Sept. 30. 

But amid the increasing number of concert announcements, one question remained: When would arena shows return to Columbus?

With Eric Church announcing a Sept. 18 stop at Nationwide Arena, it appears we finally have an answer. (The only other arena concert on the calendar at the moment, a Schottenstein Center visit from Justin Bieber set for June 29, was initially scheduled to take place at Ohio Stadium in Aug. 2020 before being downsized to the Schott and then moved to 2021; as of now, the concert is still on the arena's website, though June feels incredibly ambitious for holding an indoor concert of that size.)

The Church announcement, in contrast, is being positioned as a return to normalcy, with the press release noting that in order to make "the most of the long-awaited opportunity to 'gather again,' for the first time in his career Church will adopt an in-the-round set up, with the stage at the center of each arena floor in order to accommodate as many fans as possible."

To get there by September, vaccine distribution rates need to continue to increase, a fact of which Church appears to be keenly aware. “It became very clear to me that the only way to really get back to normal is through vaccinations. You’ve got to get needles in arms,” Church said in an April interview with Billboard, which included details about the musician getting his second dose of the vaccine.

Tickets for Church's show at Nationwide go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday, May 7.

Following this announcement, expect details about more fall arena concerts to begin trickling out in the coming weeks.