Ohio Stadium

Ohio Stadium has become a symbol of college football success and architectural excellence since becoming the home of the Buckeyes over 100 years ago.

The House That Harley Built, The Horseshoe, The Shoe — however you know the home of the Ohio State Buckeyes, know that Ohio Stadium has become a symbol of college football dominance over the past 100 years.

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Ohio Stadium

Boasting a reputation of success built on the brilliance of the Buckeyes on the field, playing against a deafening cacophony of noise, while possessing some of the most beautiful architecture in college football, Ohio Stadium is undeniably one of the best stadiums in the sport.

  • Location: Columbus, Ohio
  • Capacity: 102,780
  • Record Attendance: 110,045 (Nov. 26, 2016)
  • Date Opened: Oct. 7, 1922
  • First Opponent: Ohio Wesleyan (W, 5-0)
  • Expansions: 1948, 1991, 2001, 2014
  • Surface: Fieldturf
  • Home Record: 373-104-20 (as per ohiostatebuckeyes.com)

Over a year after breaking ground, Ohio Stadium opened its doors in 1922, with the Buckeyes beating Ohio Wesleyan in front of not even 30,000 people.

The paltry attendance—a theme that would continue through the 1920s and 1930s, with the exception of The Game against their hated rivals—caused early concern. But those fears were allayed, as over 40 million fans have packed the stadium since.

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That game has accounted for some of the largest attendances in Ohio Stadium history. The 1922 edition saw 72,000 fans pack the stadium, while the current record attendance for the sporting arena came from the 2016 edition of the rivalry— the only overtime game in the history of the rivalry.

With its unmistakably distinct architecture, Ohio Stadium is one of the most recognizable arenas in all of college football. However, with a capacity of 102,780, it’s also one of the biggest. In fact, the home of the Buckeyes is the fourth largest on-campus facility in the nation.

Ohio Stadium Seating Capacity History

  • 1922-1943: 66,210
  • 1944-1947: 72,754
  • 1948-1957: 78,677
  • 1958-1960: 79,658
  • 1961: 79,727
  • 1962-1968: 81,109
  • 1969-1970: 81,455
  • 1971: 81,475
  • 1972: 81,667
  • 1973: 82,567
  • 1974: 83,080
  • 1975-1981: 83,112
  • 1982-1984: 85,290
  • 1985-1988: 85,399
  • 1989-1990: 86,071
  • 1991-1994: 91,470
  • 1995-1999: 89,841
  • 2000: 95,346
  • 2001-2006: 101,568
  • 2007-2014: 102, 329
  • 2014-2017: 104,944
  • 2018: 102,082
  • 2019-Present: 102,780

Ohio Stadium Highlights

Ohio Stadium has a rich history packed with highlights, both architecturally and from a footballing standpoint. While we’ll cover both here, it would be remiss to begin anywhere other than the design that lends the arena its most common nickname.

The Horseshoe

When Ohio Stadium was designed, it was done so in the shape of a horseshoe, with the walls bending inwards towards the south end of the stadium to give the arena its distinctive shape. Although expansions mean that there is now a permanent South Stand, the construction still maintains the unique shape that has become a key part of the stadium’s charm.

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According to reports, the horseshoe was designed in such a manner to give every fan a good view of the action unfolding on the field. However, there was also an element of catering to the running track that was a feature of the stadium until the 1998-2021 renovation of the stadium.

The North End Rotunda

The horseshoe shape isn’t the only architectural marvel of Ohio Stadium. At the north end of the stadium, there is a spectacular rotunda that features iconic stained glass windows and impressive arches reportedly inspired by the Colosseum and Roman aqueducts. It is a spectacular feat of engineering and has become a focal point for visiting spectators.

The stained glass windows were added to Ohio Stadium in 2001. The 18.5-feet-high, 12-feet-wide panels are backlit and feature different images on each of the three windows. The center one depicts the Buckeyes’ “Block O” logo and is adorned by pictures of the Ohio State football team in action on either side.

The Victory Bell

Originally added to Ohio Stadium in 1954, the Victory Bell rings out after every Ohio State victory. The 2,420-pound bell first rang out after a win over California and continues to be a fixture of Buckeyes’ victories to this day. Allegedly, it can be heard from five miles away and is rung for double the time when Ohio State emerges victorious from The Game rivalry with Michigan.

The Olentangy

Ohio Stadium sits on the banks of the Olentangy River, a 97-mile-long tributary of Ohio’s Scioto River. The name translates as the “river of the red face paint,” which is poetic given that the stadium was built on the river’s flood plain. If it weren’t for a slurry wall and pumping system incorporated into the stadium during expansion, it would have left the original architects red-faced.

The Game of the Century

For all of the magnificent architecture, a football stadium is nothing without its football team, and the Buckeyes have been at the forefront of college football throughout their tenancy in Ohio Stadium.

In 1935, the arena was the venue for what was dubbed “The Game of the Century” between unbeaten Ohio State and Notre Dame teams. The Buckeyes opened up a 13-0 lead in the first half, but the Fighting Irish staged an improbable second-half comeback to win 18-13 in the first-ever clash of the two teams.

The Snow Bowl

The Game rivalry has produced many memorable moments in the long and storied hate-filled history, but perhaps the most memorable came inside Ohio Stadium at the climax of the 1950 college football season. The Big Ten title and a spot in the Rose Bowl were up for grabs, but only the Wolverines could go due to a no-repeat rule precluding Ohio State from returning.

The snow before the game was so heavy that they struggled to get the cover off the field. The temperatures inside Ohio Stadium were so cold that fans lit bonfires in the stands. Ohio State tried to get Michigan to forfeit the game, but the Wolverines refused and went on to win an instant classic that featured 45 punts in a 9-3 victory for Bennie Oosterbaan’s team.

Ohio Stadium Uses

In addition to its primary use as the home of the Ohio State football program, Ohio Stadium has been used for a plethora of sporting events. Between 1996 and 1998, it was the home arena for the Columbus Crew Major League Soccer franchise, who established a 30-18 winning record before finding a stadium more befitting soccer than football.

Ohio Stadium has also been the venue for international soccer games, with Real Madrid and Paris St. Germain playing a 2016 International Champions Cup game in front of 86,641 fans.

Many world-famous musicians have played at Ohio Stadium, with Pink Floyd becoming the first to rock out on the Buckeyes’ home field in 1988. In 2018, Taylor Swift became the first woman to headline a concert at the stadium, while a 2015 appearance by the Rolling Stones remains the highest revenue-maker of all musical events, bringing in close to $8 million in revenue.

With football at the very heart of Ohio Stadium, it has unsurprisingly been used for the Ohio High School Athletic Association football championship games on several occasions. The arena hosted all seven divisions from 2014 to 2016 and was the venue for multiple title games from 1982 to 1989.

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