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Spirit & Sports

See our dream home being built: 1920–22 photos

Scenes from the construction of Ohio Stadium show some of the state-of-the-art work that helped our icon stand the test of time.

Ohio Stadium’s centennial celebrates more than a place. It celebrates hard-fought victories, university ceremonies, personal milestones and so many more of the moments — big and small, long ago and into the future — that define our Buckeye community.

And it all started in what was once a marshy cornfield.

Follow along for a look at how that field, 42,000 cubic yards of concrete and 343 miles of lumber took on new life as our beloved icon.  

In an old black and white photograph, four men work at plain wooden tables building horseshoe-shaped stadium models.
University Architect’s Office staff members create plaster models of the stadium in fall 1920. Architect Howard Dwight Smith said those involved in the project “had a sentimental interest [that] inspired them to their best efforts.” 


In an old black and white photograph, seven men in suits and hats are lined up and shoveling dirt where the stadium will be built.
University and civic leaders dig in at the stadium site during a groundbreaking ceremony in August 1921. 


A team of workers construct one of the first sections of stands — only the wooden structure looks to have been put in and the men stand on top. The black and white photo includes a crane and wooden frame for a taller structure.
A construction team uses a steam-powered crane to build the east stands of the stadium. The stacks and roof of McCracken Power Plant appear in the distance. 


Concrete arches are in place in this vertical photo from the outside of the stadium, but the upper deck of stands is no more than lumber and steel. Men on a suspended scaffolding make adjustments to the front of the concrete, and men on the ground step over lumber and other construction materials.
Workers are suspended from above as they work on the stadium’s exterior in 1922. Inspired by Roman architecture, Smith prioritized the use of arches in his design. 


At a time when Ohio Stadium was almost completely constructed, more than a dozen people mill around outside the open end of the horseshoe. In the distance, one end of Ohio Stadium and its newly completed seating can be seen.
Patrons visit the nearly complete stadium, covering 150,000 square feet. Fundraising material says the footprint is “equal to the ground area of 10 of the university’s recent buildings.”


A historical photo shows men in suits and hats, each holding a broom, chatting amid the stands at Ohio Stadium. The concrete risers are filled with wooden folding chairs
Nearly 1,000 students, faculty, staff and trustees showed up to clean the stadium — including its 56 stairways and 112 aisles — the day before it was dedicated, in a procession led by Ohio State President William Oxley Thompson. 


An old-time football game has players in soft helmets and little padding. Behind them, Ohio Stadium’s stands are packed.
The dedication on October 21, 1922, draws a crowd estimated at 72,500 fans, some seated in temporary bleachers placed at the south end. The Buckeyes came up short against Michigan, 19–0.


100 years of history

Celebrate a century of the ’Shoe with a visual walk down a memory lane featuring Ohio Stadium’s icons, its biggest moments and more photos showing how it came to be.

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