The old football stadium has not disappeared and the site has not been forgotten

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The ruined carcass moulders on West Mound Street.

Signs advertise the business and the ticket office, and at the top a sign declares the ruin, “Cooper Stadium.”

The first base side of the stadium has disappeared, demolished a few years ago, but the third base side and the bleachers remain.

Tall fences make it clear that what’s left of the seats is off limits, but you can step out onto the infield, maintaining a tangle of clover, crown vetch, and blue-flowered chicory. The more delicate herbs are browned by the summer heat.

There is still a bump on where the pitcher’s mound was, but it is impossible to know if what now exists is a remnant of the stadium’s heyday or more recent excavations by groundhogs, which have been found. dug a complex on site.

The last baseball game was here in 2008, when the Columbus Clippers moved to Huntington Park, their new and much more sophisticated digging two miles northeast across the Scioto River. Their arrival reinforced one of the city’s brilliant successes, the booming Arena district.

In 1977, the Clippers played their first season at what was then called Franklin County Stadium, and later known as Cooper Stadium.

Thirteen years later, on this grassy West Mound field, a well-placed kick still causes sand to appear in the field.

On Saturday, the Columbus Crew played their first game near Huntington Park, in glittering Lower.com Field, the latest addition to the city’s Arena district.

After:Fans of the crew remember the old stadium, look forward to the new one

Left behind is their 22-year-old home, which was the first football-specific stadium built by a Major League Soccer team. There was a time when this monument in black and gold was the knees of the drone.

Hopefully he expects a much better fate than that encountered by Cooper Stadium. At least there is a plan.

The crew invested $ 30 million to develop a training facility at the site. And last month Mayor Andrew J. Ginther has proposed that taxpayers spend $ 4 million on design work to convert the former Crew Stadium grounds into a community sports park.

The city still needs a lease from the Ohio Expo Center & State Fair to secure the land for the project, and Ginther did not say in his announcement whether plans still include an indoor recreation center, as originally proposed.

Lower.com field:‘Bold, dynamic, innovative’: Columbus Crew’s new stadium officially opens ahead of first match on Saturday

Neighborhood leaders are hoping the project will, saying an indoor space would ensure the site remains a year-round draw. Such a project would benefit surrounding neighborhoods including Milo-Grogan and North and South Linden, which still seem to be waiting patiently as community investments visit other parts of our city more frequently.

Theodore Decker

Given the location of the old Crew Stadium, adjacent to the State Fairgrounds, off I-71 and not far from Ohio State University, the football site seems unlikely to be to be forgotten in the manner of the old Cooper Stadium.

For a while there were also big plans for this stadium.

The owners of the disused stadium, Arshot Development Corp., purchased the Franklin County property for $ 3.4 million in 2012.

Columbus approved a 75% 10-year tax abatement that same year for a $ 40 million project that included an 8,500-seat racetrack and an adjacent automotive research center.

The owners wrote in their proposals at the time “a new powersports site and automotive research center known as the Sports Pavilion & Automotive Research Complex (SPARC)”.

This SPARC has fizzled out. The weeds have grown. The groundhogs have moved in.

Cooper Stadium on West Mound Street in Franklinton has been idle since the Clippers' last baseball game was held there in 2008.

In 2019, the same owners discussed another redevelopment plan, this time without a racetrack but with offices, business premises, apartments and “creative workspaces”.

In Franklinton, the community leaders of the day had regained hope.

“Everything is booming all over Columbus. Why not over there? Asked Judy Box, a former chairperson of the Franklinton Area Commission in Columbus.

A fair question, which remains unanswered.

Arena district:Here’s what it will cost to bring your family to see the Crew, Clippers, Blue Jackets or Buckeyes

Even elsewhere in Franklinton, closer to downtown, things are moving. Intersections like West Town and McDowell are literally unrecognizable from what they were just 15 years ago. Once upon a time, there were Riverside-Bradley Homes.

Now there is River & Rich.

But on West Mound Street, another hulk disappears in the background, disappearing despite its size and rich history.

If it can be avoided on Black and Gold Boulevard, everyone wins.

[email protected]

@ Theodore_Decker

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