History of Ohio State Football fields

Covering 140 years of turf

A home-field advantage sure has looked different throughout the years. Walk — or dash — through this timeline that celebrates the different venues Ohio State football has called “home” over 140 years.

Nov. 1, 1880: The first home game Ohio State ever played was held at Recreation Park in German Village, where the Buckeyes suffered a 64-0 loss to the College of Wooster. The Buckeyes lost all three games that fall.

1898: Eighteen years later, the first campus football game was held at Ohio Field — at the corner of High Street and Woodruff Avenue.

1908: during the height of the temperance movement, Estelle Clark Thompson, wife of President William Oxley Thompson, christened Ohio Field with a flask of spring water. It was formally dedicated to “clean athletics.”

Originally built with open-air bleachers to hold 500, Ohio Field underwent many expansions as football grew in popularity on campus and across the country. Eventually, Ohio Field held 14,000 spectators, but it still wasn’t enough.

1916-1917: When Ohio State claimed back-to-back Western Conference titles — later that would become known as the Big Ten — it became apparent that a large stadium was needed on campus.

1919: When Ohio State met up with Illinois for the Western Conference championship, 20,000 people crowded onto bleachers and around Ohio Field’s perimeter. An estimated 40,000 stood father out. Spectators broke down the field’s fence and sat on the turf, and entrepreneurial homeowners nearby constructed their own bleachers and sold admission for their own profit.

Within two decades of that first game, Buckeye football had outgrown Ohio Field, and the drive to build Ohio Stadium started.

1920: Fundraising for the stadium began in 1920 and included a series of parades down High Street and a mock battle along the Olentangy River between campus infantry and artillery. The fundraising goal of $1 million was reached in just over three months.

1921: It took 14 months to build Ohio Stadium. Ground for the original field was turned over with a horse-drawn plow. And a short-line railroad was built on campus to transport 60,000 tons of gravel, 30,000 tons of sand and 1.8 million feet of lumber.

1922: The first game played in Ohio Stadium was in September 1922 against Ohio Wesleyan. Construction was still happening.

1933: The stadium actually housed students. What started as inexpensive, barracks-style housing during the Great Depression eventually became Stadium Scholarship housing. While students no longer live in Ohio Stadium (ending in 2000), the tradition of leadership, service and learning continues today through the Stadium Scholarship Program.

1954: The Victory Bell — look for it up in the tower on the southeast side of the stadium — was first rung after Ohio State beat California. The bell weighs 2,420 pounds and can be heard up to 5 miles away. Members of Alpha Phi Omega ring the bell for 15 minutes after a Buckeye win — and for 30 minutes after victories over That Team Up North.

1970: Artificial turf is installed at Ohio Stadium.

1990: Grass is brought back.

2016: The Shoe hosts its largest game attendance ever during the Ohio State-Michigan game: 110,045.

Today: After multiple renovations and additions, the ’Shoe has a seating capacity of 102,780 and is the fourth-largest on-campus facility in the nation. Since that opening game against Ohio Wesleyan in 1922, more than 36 million people have streamed through its turnstyles.