BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – The regular season of high school football is over and playoffs begin Friday. And with this season went the passing of an old friend; a place where memories were made: Boardman Stadium has seen its last game.
The view from atop Boardman Stadium is a pleasant one, the green grass contrasting with the Southern Park Mall across the street. But upon closer inspection, you’ll find the stadium old and rundown. A wooden bleacher snapped in two, the steel girders rusted with peeling paint, the concrete below the Spartan head chipped in two places.
John Darnell is publisher of the Boardman News. In researching the stadium’s history, he discovered, contrary to popular belief, that is was not built by the Works Project Administration. It was built by a tax levy after the administration turned down a request for funding due to the effort in World War II.
The first game at Boardman Stadium was played November 15, 1941. Boardman beat Sebring. What followed was 73 years of community events, band nights, and football games.
“It was big enough and loud enough to feel the crowd,” said Tom Zetts, former Boardman quarterback.
Zetts remembers rainy seasons where the field ended up being a muddy mess by the year’s end. He also recalled that the stadium had no locker rooms. Boardman’s team used the Middle School stage.
“We got dressed on the stage and the curtain was up, but that was our locker room,” Zetts said. “There was a makeshift chalkboard in there that we would roll in and that was it.”
Boardman Stadium was also home to the Boardman band. Year in and year the band was one of the area’s best. The band occupied grandstands on the north end.
Tom Ruggieri played in the band before becoming the director. He won’t miss the muddy fields splattering mud on the uniforms and white shoes. The acoustics were also a bit inconsistent.
“Good in terms of reflection of sound from that concrete, from the concrete bleachers. That was wonderful,” Ruggieri said. “But a lot of sound down on the field would get sucked up by the grass.”
The scoreboard is now dark and the loud speakers silent. No ceremony was held after the last game. Boardman won and everyone went home.
Next year, there will be a shiny new stadium with artificial turf. No rust, no chips, no grass.
Boardman Stadium served the community well. Now it’s time for change.