Chronological Tour: Stop 35

Cooper Stadium

Walking into Cooper Stadium, Aug-2008.

The seating bowl, as seen from the first-base line just after sunset.

You can see parts of downtown from behind the plate.

Quick Facts: Rating: 3 baseballs
Red Bird Stadium opened in 1932 as the first professional baseball park with lights incorporated into the structure. The first night game here was in June 1932, two weeks after the park debuted as the home of a St. Louis Cardinals farm club.

The Cards moved their farm club to Omaha in 1955, but the park remained in use, as local businessman Harold Cooper arranged for a community purchase of the Ottawa franchise of the International League and relocated it to the Mound Street ballpark, renaming the club the Jets and the facility Jets Stadium. That club lasted until 1970; in 1971 they moved to Charleston, W.Va., and became the Charlies.

Ready for extra innings? We've got room for 12!
A major renovation, spearheaded by Cooper, by then on the Franklin County board of commissioners, enabled the park to host minor league ball again in 1977. The park received new sky boxes and other upgrades, and reopened as Franklin County Stadium to host the relocated Memphis Blues. In gratitude for all of Cooper's service, the park was rededicated to him in August 1984.

From 1984 through 1998, the park featured artificial turf, which enabled it to host numerous football games and other events, including concerts and revival meetings. The left-field line is 355 feet, owing to the ability to play football at the park. As I understand it, no football was played at Cooper Stadium after the grass surface was restored in 1999.

The stadium saw its last baseball action over Labor Day weekend in 2008. Huntington Park, sponsored by a prominent area bank, opened in downtown Columbus in 2009.

Fans at the game I attended in 2008 said that the facility, which is still owned by Franklin County, will be used as a mini-speedway, similar to the short-term fate of Bush Stadium in Indianapolis.

Game # Date League Level Result
68 Wed 19-Aug-1992 International AAA Syracuse 10, COLUMBUS 4
962 Sat 30-Aug-2008 International AAA Toledo 7, COLUMBUS 1
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This page updated 10-Aug-2009