Columbus – July 2020 – Sports Venues Past and Present

Today we take a look at the extensive history of sports venues in Columbus. While many are associated with Ohio State University, the city has a long history of professional sports.

 

Baseball

For more than 150 years they have played professional baseball in Columbus – all at the minor league level.

The first true stadium in the city was one of the first in the country to be constructed of concrete and steel. Previously many were built of wood, and often burnt down.

The stadium was called Neil Park.  It was located on Cleveland Avenue just north of downtown.

297028a_lg.jpeg

 

This stadium was the home to professional baseball until the 1930s. Today there is no sign of any history of the venue, now being a facility for Abbott Labs

2020 07 05 68 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

 

The next stadium was built on the near west side of the city, along Mound Street. It was originally named Redbirds Stadium, as the team was a farm team for the St Louis Cardinals, and were called the Columbus Redbirds.

Redbirdstadiumaerial.jpg

 

The stadium served the city until 2008, although it changed names a few times, usually when the team changed names. From 1955 until 1970 they were the Columbus Jets

 

 

Finally it was named after a county commissioner who was able to secure a team in the 1970s after a 6 year absence, Harold Cooper.

2008 06 14 75 Columbus Clippers Baseball

 

 

2008 06 14 97 Columbus Clippers Baseball.jpg

 

 

2008 06 14 92 Columbus Clippers Baseball

 

 

Today it sits vacant, partially torn down. It has been the subject of numerous schemes for redevelopment over the years, but nothing has come of it.

2020 07 05 88 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present.jpg

 

 

2020 07 05 89 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

 

The current stadium is called Huntington Park (the naming rights were sold to a local bank). It is located much closer to downtown, in the middle of a large area of gentrification.

2020 07 05 71 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present.jpg

 

2009 09 06 47 Columbus Huntington Park

 

2009 09 06 48 Columbus Huntington Park.jpg

 

 

2009 09 06 26 Columbus Huntington Park

 

2009 09 06 40 Columbus Huntington Park.jpg

 

 

 

 

Professional Football

The National Football League generates the most revenue of any sports league in the world, with it’s 32 teams scattered across the United States. But the NFL did not start out that way – they started in an assortment of cities and towns scattered around the Great Lakes, including Columbus.

For 12 years their headquarters was in  the historic New Hayden Building.

800px-New_Hayden_Building.jpg

 

The Columbus team was comprised mostly of railroad workers who worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Panhandle Division. So named because it traversed the Northern West Virginia panhandle, the railroad had a large yard on the south side of the city.

Panhandles 2.jpg

While most of the teams in the league were made up of former college players, the Panhandles were tough railroad workers who quickly became known for their physical play. Their logo was reflective of the Pennsylvania Railroad Logo

 

Because they worked for the railroad, and had free travel on the trains, they played most of their games in other cities. Their home field in Columbus was at Indianola Park, an amusement park located just north of the city.

78f0c05a4c5d2bb3bc3e2a992f7a714d

 

Today the former Amusement Park and NFL home is a strip mall and church.

1.jpg

 

 

College Football

What Columbus lacks in professional football it makes up in college football. Ohio State  football. The budget for athletics at Ohio State is over $200m a year, with the football program generating much of that revenue. But it wasn’t always that way.

The first team was fielded in 1890, with 22 players making the trip to the nearby town of Delaware, Ohio for a game again Ohio Wesleyan College.

2020 07 11 29 Delaware Ohio Historic Markers

 

Later that year they had their first home game. It occurred a few miles away from campus at a field in German Village – now home to a grocery store.

 

2.jpg

 

Football quickly became popular and the university built their own stadium – Ohio Field. This field was located on North High Street – near 17th Avenue.

Most people sat around the field until 1907 when the first stands were built. As college football continued to be very popular and by the time the stadium was abandoned in 1921 it has seating for 14,000.

1915_ohio_field

 

Today a parking garage and campus buildings occupy the site.

2020 07 05 44 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

 

With much debate and fanfare the university opened Ohio Stadium in 1922, with an astounding 62,000 seats. Many thought they would never fill it, but by the last game of the year again Michigan they did.

71022_h.jpg

 

Today it seats over 105,000.

2020 07 05 37 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present.jpg

 

2020 07 05 23 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present.jpg

 

 

2020 07 05 39 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

 

2017 03 05 49 Ohio State University

 

2015 04 12 123 Ohio State University Tour.jpg

 

2015 04 12 124 Ohio State University Tour

 

2015 04 12 122 Ohio State University Tour.jpg

 

2015 01 24 1 Ohio State Championship Celebration

 

 

Ohio State football is such a big deal they have this airplane hangar sized indoor practice facility, complete with a statue of legendary coach Woody Hayes out front.

2020 07 05 14 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

2020 07 05 19 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present.jpg

 

 

Arenas

Columbus is home to a number of arenas that have served the city and university over the years.

The State Fairgrounds Coliseum (aka – Taft Coliseum) was built in 1918 with 5000 permanent seats. It has hosted everything from Ohio State basketball to minor league hockey games to horse shows, and one of the venues for ‘The Arnold’.

2020 07 05 56 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

default.jpg

 

checkers-2

 

2016 07 31 97 Ohio State Fair.jpg

 

 

St Johns Arena

The Fairgrounds Coliseum served as the home to Ohio State basketball until the 1950s when St Johns Arena was completed on campus.

It was opened in 1956, named for a former basketball coach and athletic director. The 13,276 seats are very cool old school wood.

Once Scottenstein Center was completed, the arena has been relegated to secondary sports like gymnastics and volleyball.

2020 07 05 30 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

2015 04 12 141 Ohio State University Tour.jpg

 

2015 04 12 139 Ohio State University Tour

 

 

2017 01 06 97 Ohio State Pac 12 Big 10 Volleyball Tournament.jpg

 

 

 

Nationwide Arena

The only major league team in town, the Columbus Blue Jackets, play their home games at Nationwide Arena. Completed in 2000 for the expansion Blue Jackets it is typical of the arena’s built in the last 25 years – with a large number of luxury suites, and quirky designs including an ear piercing cannon that they shoot off when they score.

2020 07 05 76 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

2020 07 05 75 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present.jpg

 

2017 03 11 25 Columbus OHSAA Hockey Championships

 

2007 04 05 Columbus Blue Jackets 17.jpg

 

 

2016 10 02 53 Columbus vs Pittsburgh Pre Season.jpg

 

 

Schottenstein Center – Value City Arena

This 20,000 seat arena opened just a couple of years before Nationwide Arena, so the city has 2 very large indoor venues.

When they were planning both arenas the city wanted the site to be downtown, whereas the university wanted it on campus – 3 miles north. When the university didn’t get what they wanted they ‘took their ball and went home’.

2020 07 05 20 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

2011 02 18 Ohio State Hockey  7.jpg

 

 

2011 02 18 Ohio State Hockey 48

 

 

 

Soccer

Mapfre Stadium

When the MLS started in the 1990s all of the teams played in stadiums built for American football. The Columbus Crew was no different, playing in the 105,000 seat Ohio Stadium.

In 1999 they became the first MLS team to build a soccer specific stadium. This 20,000 seat stadium sits on part of the Ohio State Fairgrounds. Ironically they sometimes played high school football here as well.

In 2015 they sold the naming rights to an insurance company, hence ‘Mapfre Stadium’.

2020 07 05 49 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

2020 07 05 52 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present.jpg

 

MAPFRE-Stadium.jpg

 

 

After shaking down the city and state with a threat to move to Austin, Texas the Crew has received 1/2 of the $200m required to build a new stadium downtown.

2020 07 05 81 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

The artist renderings show what a difference it will be.

crew_stadium_aerial_2000px.jpg

 

Columbus-Crew-Stadium-rendering-2-1024x579

 

 

crew1.jpg

 

 

 

Jesse Owens Stadium

Our last venue is on the Ohio State campus, Jesse Owens Stadium. This facility is home to track and field, as well as soccer.

In front is a statue and Ohio Historical Marker detailing the amazing feats of Jesse in the 1936 Olympics.

2020 07 05 12 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present.jpg

 

2020 07 05 10 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

 

2020 07 05 7 Columbus Sports Venues Past and Present

 

 

2015 04 12 24 Ohio State University Tour

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s