Nestled snugly on the banks of the Olentangy River, stately Ohio Stadium is one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of college athletics.
Ohio Stadium is one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of sports. Built in 1922 at a cost of $1.3 million and refurbished in 2001 for slightly more than $194 million, the horseshoe-shaped stadium is a monument to college football. As part of the renovation, the once portable South Stands became a permanent fixture.
With its present seating capacity of 104,944, Ohio Stadium is the fourth largest on-campus facility in the nation. Since the opening game against Ohio Wesleyan on Oct. 7, 1922, more than 36 million fans have streamed through the stadium’s portals.
Attending games in Ohio Stadium has become a Saturday afternoon ritual for Ohio State fans, who flock to the parking lots early to enjoy the gala atmosphere and pageantry that surrounds each and every game.
From 1951 to 1973, the Buckeyes led the nation in attendance 21 times, including the 14 consecutive years from 1958 to 1971. Since 1949, Ohio State has never been lower than fourth nationally in average home attendance.
Unique in its double-deck horseshoe design, Ohio Stadium is both intimate and intimidating. The closeness of the seating provides a definite home-field advantage for the Buckeyes, at the same time allowing fans to view the game from unobstructed vantage points.
Prior to the construction of Ohio Stadium, the Buckeyes played their games at Ohio Field. The demand for a new stadium came about during the “Harley Years” – 1916, ’17 and ’19, when Charles “Chic” Harley became the Buckeyes’ first three-time All-American.
With the echoes of Harley’s legendary feats ringing throughout the state, local businessmen set about the task of raising money for a new stadium. They did so quickly, raising almost all of the $1.3 million through private donations, and construction began in 1920.
Skeptics scoffed at the thought of a 66,000-seat venue, but they were quickly quieted when an overflow crowd of 71,138 showed up for the dedication game against Michigan on Oct. 21, 1922.
Numerous upgrades have been made over the years, including the installation of artificial turf in 1972. The latter was made possible through the generous donation of Lou Fischer, who played for the Buckeyes and Coach Woody Hayes in 1950 and ’51.
A new scoreboard with state-of-the-art graphics and statistical information was added in 1984 at a cost of $2.4 million, or nearly twice that of the original stadium.
The artificial surface was replaced with natural grass in 1990. The Buckeyes currently play on P.A.T. a natural grass surface with a state-of-the-art draining system that keeps the field playable even under the worst conditions.
In 1999, the stadium underwent a three-year face-lift that was completed in time for the season opener against Akron in 2001. Thanks to a creative financing plan, no university or student monies were used during the renovation process. Instead the sale of the hospitality suites and club seats, covered 80 percent of the cost, with the remainder being covered by naming-rights gifts, monies from additional ticket availability, increased concessions and merchandise revenues and bonds.
As a result of that renovation, the Stadium is completely up to code in terms of disability seating. Additionally, aisles have been widened, rails have been added and lighting has been installed in the concourses. There are also many more restrooms and concession stands on all levels.
The stadium also has been the site of several summer concerts, including performances by Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones.
Ohio Stadium is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Anyone who has seen a game in the giant horseshoe understands why. There are few experiences in athletics that are more enjoyable!