Oct 20, 2021 - Sports
How to restore famed Negro Leagues ballpark Cooper Stadium
A view from the stands of Cooper Stadium in 2006.
A view from the stands of Cooper Stadium in 2006. Photo: Jay Laprete/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Imagine, for a moment, a Major League Baseball game in Columbus.

  • Seeing José Ramírez smack a double in the capital city. Watching in awe as Joey Votto scoops another ball at first base, all with the Columbus skyline in the background.

Driving the news: After playing in an Iowa cornfield last year, MLB is reportedly looking for more "nontraditional" venues for regular season games.

Here's our pitch: Restore Cooper Stadium to its former glory and bring the Reds and Guardians to Columbus for a proper Battle for Ohio.

Flashback: Cooper Stadium, located on Mound Street just off of Route 70, was built in the early 1930s.

  • The park hosted minor league teams for many decades, with future stars like Derek Jeter, Willie Stargell and Mariano Rivera calling Cooper Stadium home, before they moved to Huntington Park in the Arena District in 2008.
  • Plans to convert the site into a racetrack have fizzled. A portion of the stands are demolished and the park remains vacant.

The intrigue: Cooper Stadium once hosted several seasons of Negro League Baseball back in the '30s.

  • The abandoned stadium is one of the very few Negro League parks still standing.

State of play: MLB has focused much attention in recent years to social justice causes and racial equality.

  • Last year, MLB elevated the Negro Leagues to "major" status — meaning the Columbus Blue Birds games once played at Cooper Stadium are recorded in the official major league record books.

🗯 Our thought bubble: What better way to honor the legacy of Negro League baseball in Ohio than bringing Cooper Stadium back to life?

  • Besides Reds-Guardians games, the site could be utilized year-round for youth programs and exhibition contests.
  • It could also include history exhibits about the Blue Birds and the entire Negro Leagues.
avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Columbus.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Columbus stories

No stories could be found

Columbuspostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Columbus.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more