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Columbus Clippers' New Ballpark Has "Grand" Opening

The new home for the Columbus Clippers, Huntington Park, had a "grand" grand-opening Saturday. There were speeches, a statue dedication and the long awaited ribbon cutting.

Clippers fans had lined the sides of Nationwide Boulevard three hours before the first pitch at Huntington Park. They were there to take in the opening day parade. While various dignitaries rode by, the crowd heard music from a military band and from the Columbus Police and Fire Pipes and Drums

Local baseball legend Harold Cooper served as grand marshal of the parade that ended at Huntington Park's centerfield gates. That's where County Commissioner Paula Brooks waited with other officials to start the formal dedication.

"It is a breathtaking day," Brooks said. "It is unbelievable. We did it and I'm glad we did it. And the whole community seems to be behind us in celebrating today; it's fantastic!"

The new $55 million facility is more than a stadium Brooks says. She emphasized the name is Huntington Park. And she said it's another element in the city's economic development.

"This will really help our tourism industry which is in the billions - it's grown to $7 billion in the last several years," Brooks says. "The legacy will just be more and more - to bring visitors here, to bring our families here in an affordable, friendly way; appropriate entertainment for families."

In his official remarks, Mayor Michael Coleman reminded the crowd of what the Arena District used to be.

"What a great day in Columbus," Coleman said. "We are proud of this stadium. But this is more than just a stadium. It's a statement; a statement of the greatness of the city of Columbus."

With the speeches concluded, Clippers president and general manager Ken Schnacke gave the final ribbon cutting countdown.

Inside the park fans were quick to appreciate the difference between Huntington and the old Cooper Stadium. Clippers fan Karen Gibson:

"I think this is absolutely fabulous," Gibson said. "This is what real baseball is about. Love it! And I thought I liked the Coop. This is way better."

Tickets may be slightly more expensive at Huntington Park. But Gibson was unfazed.

"I mean it's worth it," she said. "There's more food choices. It's more of a baseball feel to it."