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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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Today a parking garage and campus buildings occupy the site.

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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.

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Today it seats over 105,000.

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2017 03 05 49 Ohio State University

 

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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.

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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’.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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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’.

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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.

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The artist renderings show what a difference it will be.

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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.

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Virtual Travel – Quebec

Bienvenue au Québec

 

 

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Quebec is 2 1/2 times the size of Texas, and nearly as large as Alaska, stretching from the USA border to past the Arctic Circle, with nearly all the people living within 100 miles of the American border.

With French being the primary language it truly feels like you have arrived in Europe, only it looks ‘North American’. I have always enjoyed visits to Quebec and look forward to going back.

 

Quebec City is the capital of the province. It is one of the oldest towns in North America, having been first settled in 1535, and founded as a town in 1608.

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Nearby is Montmorency Falls, one of the largest volume waterfalls on the continent.

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Canyon Saint Anne is another impressive natural setting, with a series of waterfalls dropping over 200′ through the canyon.

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Pohenegamook is a small town on the Maine border, where some houses literally are sitting in both countries.

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Montreal is the 2nd largest French speaking city in the world.

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Old Montreal was the original setting for the town. Today it is the tourist center.

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Montreal is home to a number of impressive cathedrals.

 

 

Parc Jean Drapeau is on a couple of islands in the middle of the St Lawrence River. It is home to, among other things, the Formula 1 racetrack. It is easily accessible via the Metro.

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The Montreal Botanical Gardens is one of the finest in the world.

 

 

Montreal was host to the 1976 Olympics.

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Olympic Stadium was home to the Montreal Expos until left town to move to Washington DC

 

 

The city has a great collection of architecture.

 

Au revoir du Québec, c’est parti pour l’Ontario

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Texas

Texas!

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Texas is a big state with a great variety of places for photography, therefore this is a LONG posting.

 

 

 

 

Texas Culture

1952     1958     1991     2007     2009     2011     2012     2016

 

 

Austin – State Capital

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The Texas State Capitol dates from 1885. The land it is on was acquired in a barter deal, 3 million acres of Texas Panhandle for this land!

Texas shows it’s Tex-Mex history in the state foods…

State Pastries – two – Strudel & Sopiapilla

Apple strudel     

 

State Small Mammal – Armadillo

 

 

 

The city of Austin is proud of it’s motto – Keep Austin Weird.

With the music scene, including a statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the Congress Street bats it is a great place to be.

 

 

 

Prairies

1949     1969     1972     2013     2014

 

Roads & Bridges

1954     1964     1974     1975     1977     1978    1983     1987

 

I have more Texas Official Highway Maps than any other state. So many this section has combined the Prairies with the Highways which is appropriate because it features Amarillo and Route 66

 

Amarillo

You are half way there – IF you are going from Chicago to Los Angeles, or vice versa.

 

 

The legendary Cadillac Ranch. For more than 40 years people have been spray painting these cars. The good folks of Amarillo liked the planted Cadillacs they have expanded (in different parts of town) to VW Beetles and Combines.

 

 

Mountains

1953     1959     1970     1993     2017

 

 

Terlingua  – The ‘ghost town’ of Terlingua is a former mining town, but is not vacant, as it is a destination for tourist from Big Bend National Park.

Once a year they hold the world’s largest chili cook-off.

 

 

Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. These two parks cover much of the Rio Grande Valley of West Texas. Their natural scenery is stunning.

A plus is being able to take a row boat across the river to Mexico for lunch in Bouillas.

 

 

Marathon – Gage Hotel   We had the good fortune of spending the night in this crossroads town on the way to Big Bend. The Gage Hotel is a historic property that attracts people just for the atmosphere and food.

 

 

Langtry – Made famous by Judge Roy Bean and his Law West of the Pecos, and even more famous when Paul Newman starred in a movie of the same name. The town is pretty much vacant, but the area is scenic.

Nearby is Seminole Canyon State Historic Park. This park holds significant cave art.

 

 

 

Cities & Beaches

1961     1968     2015     2019

 

 

San Antonio. While the city is large, it has a feel very different than Houston or Dallas. The downtown is much more compact, with a significant amount of Art Deco architecture.

 

 

Missions – There are five missions in San Antonio, and four of those are maintained by the National Park Service (the 5th is the Alamo). Mission San Jose is the most impressive architecturally.  Our day in San Antonio included a visit to Mission Concepcion.

 

Alamo – The most famous mission in the state, and likely the country, it is not known for it’s service as the Mission San Antonio de Valero, but more so it’s use as a fort in the Mexican independence effort when a group of Texas soldiers died defending it.

 

 

Houston – The city is the 4th largest city in the country, with 2.3 million people in the city. It is the 5th largest metro area (by some calculations) with 7 million people.

The city has more buildings over 150m (492′) than any city in the United States other than New York, Chicago and Miami.

There are still a few historic buildings downtown, but many have been destroyed over the years as they went taller and newer.

 

 

Houston Art – One of the great finds in our travels was the very cool, quirky art of Houston. From top to bottom. Giant Presidential Heads – Sanctioned Graffiti – Beer Can House – Luck Land – Smithers Park.

 

 

Parks and Rec  Houston also provided some unique ‘park’ experiences – from going under the Buffalo Bayou Park to see the Cistern, to the Botanical Gardens, and finally inside for some baseball.

 

 

Galveston     Another pleasant surprise was Galveston. It seemed like 3 cities in one – the typical seaside resort with amusement rides and motels, a great state park natural area, and finally the historic area on the bay side.

 

 

Dallas – Fort Worth    While Houston gained lots of photos on this posting I have actually been to Dallas far more, just some time ago and without a camera.

Dallas is corporate, Fort Worth is cowboy (I know – stereotypes, but it seems to fit).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Missouri

Show me the way to Missouri.

 

Government Towns

1946 – State Capitol     1989 – University of Missouri

 

The small town of Jefferson City is the Missouri capital city. The state capitol is much like most of the others, design in the classic style (photo from Wiki)

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Jefferson City is the 15th largest city in Missouri. The only state capital that is lower in ranks of cities within a state is Olympia, Washington – which is the 24th largest city in the state. As the photo below shows, there is no skyline to Jefferson City. (Note – 17 state capitals are also the largest city in the state. The largest state capital by population is Phoenix, with 1.7 million people in the city limits).

 

And if you find yourself in this small state capital what is the #1 rated activity according to Tripadvisor? The Old Penitentiary, rating higher than the Capitol itself.

Missouri State Penitentiary

 

State Symbol time!

State Animal – Missouri Mule. In the 1800s mules were the ‘workhorse’ of the farm – and Missouri was the center of the mule population.

 

State Horse – Missouri Fox Trotting Horse. Developed in the Ozarks in the 1800s this horse is famous for his trotting gait.

 

State Dessert – Ice Cream Cone. Famously invented at the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair.

Ice cream cone - the official state dessert of Missouri.

 

 

Jefferson City is just down the road from the much larger Columbia, Missouri. It is home to the University of Missouri. (photo from website commonapp.com)

University of Missouri

 

 

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The comic strip Beetle Bailey was written by Mort Walker while he was still attending the university. It is celebrated with a sculpture.

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Roads in Missouri

1947     1954     1979     1997     2007     2010