Behind the Scenes: The Schottenstein Center Prepares for the Venue’s First Ever Rodeo

The first of an estimated 60 truckloads of dirt was dumped on the Schottenstein Center arena floor about 8 a.m. Friday morning (1/9). It would take five hours and 59 more truckloads to fill the Value City Arena with the necessary dirt for the World’s Toughest Rodeo event Saturday, January 10.

rodeo first dump

At first, a small amount of dirt is dumped to create a ramp from the performance floor to the concrete floor so it is easier and smoother for the trucks to enter the performance area to unload the more than three million pounds of dirt needed for the event.

It’s the same dirt used when the previous rodeo took place at Nationwide Arena last year, and was stored here in Columbus for future use. The dirt, that has a makeup of more clay than the dirt sold in stores, is spread evenly throughout the floor at ten inches deep. The clay makes the dirt more durable for bucking broncos, horses, bulls and the other events in the rodeo people love to see. Plus, because it is reused dirt, it is not unusual to find a random horseshoe from a previous performance, as was discovered this morning!  But despite it being reused, it is ‘clean’ dirt and perfect grounding for the 30 professional cowboys and more than 60 livestock in the World’s Toughest Rodeo.


By noon, about two million pounds of the three million needed had been dumped on the floor. The floor itself was like putting together a puzzle with plywood boards and other coverings on top of  the ice used by the Ohio State University Men’s and Women’s hockey teams before it was ready for the trucks.


After each truckload, a bulldozer spread the pile over the floor to eventually make it an even ten inches deep. It will take about another hour for the uncovered plywood in this photo to be completely covered and to surround the bare stage with the dirt.  After the floor is done, the stage will be prepared for country music star Dustin Lynch (“Cowboys and Angels”), who will perform after the Rodeo. Lynch has been one of country music’s most-played artists since 2012; his popularity and the success of “Cowboys and Angels” helped push his debut major label CD to the number one position on the Billboard Country Album charts and hit #2 with his second album..

While all of this activity was taking place, local media were on hand to do interviews and shoot footage of this fascinating process for their newscasts.  One segment on FOX 28’s Good Morning Columbus this morning (1/9) had Dana Turtle (“Turtle on the Town”) talk to The World’s Toughest Rodeo producer Tommy Joe about what it takes to produce the event and what fans could expect.

This will be the first time a rodeo has been presented at the Schottenstein Center and only the second time ever dirt has filled the arena floor! By the time fans enter the arena Saturday night, it will look fantastic as an additional 60,000 pounds of staging, pyrotechnics, lighting, bucking shoots and more will be in place for a wonderful evening at The World’s Toughest Rodeo!  Now you know what it takes to present a rodeo!

The World’s Toughest Rodeo featuring 30 of the world’s best and most-accomplished professional cowboys as well as other specialty and comedy acts will be at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Saturday, January 10.  PLUS, following the Rodeo, country music star Dustin Lynch will perform!  For more information visit


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