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Sit Back And Take In The Memories Of Cooper Stadium

Cooper Stadium is coming down.  Professional baseball in Columbus has since  moved to the Arena District but it’s taken five years to develop plans for the property on West Mound Street. The new plans call for the demolition of the stadium but not before some unique baseball memorabilia is sold. You would hardly recognize it. What was once a perfectly manicured ball diamond is now an overgrown field. Walnut trees as high as 12 feet high have sprouted behind home plate and next to the third base dug-out. A groundhog has burrowed around the batter’s box. http://www.flickr.com/photos/wosu/sets/72157634671850340/show This is Cooper Stadium, or at least what’s left of it. Baseball was last played here in 2008, and since then, the gates have been locked and nature has taken over. The infield looks more like a botanical garden. The outfield walls are overgrown with ivy. History of West Mound Street Home of the Columbus Redbirds, Bluebirds, Bullies, Jets, Magic and most recently the Clippers, the structure on West Mound is nearing the end of its 81 year life. “I grew up with Cooper stadium. It was Franklin County stadium back in the day. Then Cooper Stadium. It’s a landmark here. It’s been a part of the fabric of my life," said Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady. O'Grady calls himself a long-time baseball fan, and of course a long-time Columbus Clippers fan. Walking through the concourse of Cooper Stadium, O’Grady pointed out where old murals of teams of the past used to be.

“You talk to old-timers and they came here for generations and for decades and it’s just a great piece of the fabric of the community and of a lot of people’s lives," O'Grady said. "We’re just happy that we’re going to be able to continue with a sports tradition here.â€?

But, that tradition is fast fading. The lights in the outfield still remain, the concourse still remains, the old ticket office outside the main gate still remains and the seats still remain. Well, until now. “They’re in there right now taking them out," O'Grady said. "It’s a great opportunity for folks to have a piece of the old ball park.â€? Before the new owner destroys a big part of the stadium to start the next project, they are selling the seats that line Cooper Stadium, row by row. Teams taking advantage of the sale Ted Tom, head baseball coach at Shawnee State University, made the trip to Columbus to purchase 156 seats for their college stadium in Portsmouth. “We play in Branch Rickey Park, it’s an old minor league stadium, and there’s a section behind home plate that at one time over the course of the last 80 years had seats in it, so this is an opportune time to be able to take advantage of Cooper Stadiums demolition and be able to use them for our facility," Tom said after loading 156 seats into a truck. “It’s really exciting, I grew up pretty close to here, so I came here when they were playing here all the time. I got to play on the field a few times. So to take that back to our park, just brings more history to what we already have back home.â€? Another baseball coach, Kyle Rase of Gibsonburg High School, is also hoping to purchase a set of seats for their ball park. While he’s still waiting on final purchase approval, he wants to purchase 50 seats for his stadium.

“I think it would mean a lot just for the fact that when we won our state championship in 2005, we won it in Cooper Stadium. It was such a memorable state championship," Rase said.

And what makes this state championship so unique? “We had a losing record and won a state championship," Rase said. "We were 6-17 in the regular season and we won eight straight to win the tournament, end 14-17, as state champs. Obviously some great memories from the games we played in Cooper Stadium.â€? Individual sales Even with the sales to college and high school baseball coaches, more seats remain for sale. Kristen Foley is from Griffin Communications, a firm representing the developers of the Cooper Stadium site. “There has been a huge interest in buying the seats," Foley said. "Actually since the stadium has closed people have been asking if they can purchase the seats. The time finally became available when we offered it to the general public. We had a huge response both for individuals who are buying them for their man caves, their patios, dare I say, their living rooms, for some individuals." While I didn’t find anyone that wanted to put the stadium seats in their living room, Commissioner O’Grady wants to get his in his basement as soon as possible. “I don’t know if there is going to be any practical use for them, it’s just a cool addition," O'Grady said. "Just a couple extra seats for kids to get around a ball game or to get around a video game, they’re definitely going to be a nice attraction in the man cave.â€? The Arshot Investment Corporation development plans to demolish Cooper and build the new Sports Pavilion and Automotive Research Complex, or (SPARC). No word yet on whether peanuts and cracker jacks will be available at the new concession stands. Sally Xia contributed to this report.   For more information on purchasing seats yourself, visit BuyCooperSeats.com