For 84 of its 116-year history, Ohio State football has been
played in venerable Ohio Stadium. Listed on the National Registry of
Historic Places, this cathedral of college football was opened in
While we have become accustomed to crowds over well over 100,000,
the stadium was originally built to seat 66,210. That figure itself
was considered outlandish. At the time, overflow crowds at Ohio
Field would barely reach 20,000.
to the popularity of Charles "Chic" Harley in the late 1910's - and
the school's first Big Ten championships - Ohio State football was
reaching unprecedented heights. Director of Athletics, Lynn W. St.
John, and Thomas French, a professor and member of the athletic
board, were the visionaries that saw a need for a new stadium.
Three years prior, French had asked Howard Dwight Smith, a
graduate and faculty member of the OSU School of Architecture to
render blue-prints for a new stadium. His design called for two
decks, in a horseshoe shape, inspired by ancient ruins of Greek and
Roman empires. Those plans were approved on May 24, 1921. An
extensive fund raising campaign netted over $1,000,000, and on
August 3, 1921 ground was officially broken for the structure just
east of the Olentangy River.
The project was completed in time for the 1922 season, and on
October 7th, in front of 25,000 fans who witnessed a 5-0 decision
over Ohio Wesleyan. Ohio Stadium was officially dedicated two weeks
later against Michigan. This time, over 70,000 passed through the
turnstiles, the largest crowd at the time ever to watch a football
game in the Midwest.
The "Horseshoe" was given a massive face lift from 1999-2001,
making it one of the finest facilities in all of college football.
The field was lowered 14 feet, extra seats were added, luxury suites
installed, and south stands made permanent. The renovations, at a
price of nearly $194 million, still maintained the architectural
integrity of Smith's original design, while adding all the modern
amenities of the 21st century, including a new state-of-the-art of
Ohio Stadium is as vital to the Buckeye experience as the game
itself. Since 1949, Ohio State has never finished lower than fourth
nationally in average home attendance. From 1951 through 1973, OSU
led the nation in attendance 21 times, including 14 straight from
1958 to 1971. That support has transitioned to the Buckeyes play on
the field as well. All-time OSU has won nearly 77% of its games
played in the "'Shoe", including 89% since 2001.