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Cooper Stadium To Aid Driverless Car Technology In Columbus

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Thomas Bradley
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WOSU News
Cooper Stadium site abandoned in 2013.

Cooper Stadium, once a thriving center for minor league baseball in Columbus, sits abandoned in Franklinton after its last game was played in it, in 2008.

Now, the City Of Columbus is looking to Mound Street to use the old ball field to test driverless cars.

Thomas Bradley from WOSU’s Sports Show After The Score spoke to Tom Knox from Columbus Business First about how a $50 Million Smart City grant can help bring Cooper Stadium back to life.

Click the play button above to hear their conversation.

The below text is an automatic transcription of the above conversation, please excuse any and all errors or typos.

Tom Knox: The Stadium's always been on the sort of border of Franklinton and Hilltop and, you know was state-of-the-art I guess you could say when it opened.

But towards the end there are not many people are going to the games. A couple of thousand. And you know during the 90s Yankees' heyday I remember being a kid and getting tickets to go see Derek Jeter and Hideki Irabu.

I mean there were some really, really good Yankees players who came through Columbus in the 90s and maybe early 2000s. But the ballpark just wasn't very good anymore. That area of town a lot of people just don't want to go to. So that's kind of what led to its demise and the building of Huntington Park here in Arena District in downtown.

Thomas Bradley: So what's going on with Cooper Stadium now. I remember I think it was three years ago on WOSU's airwaves we did a story about them selling all the seats from Coopers Stadium and the entire field was completely overgrown. The stadium was sold to a company called Arshot. What's what's going on with Arshot?

TK: Arshot, their principals Bill Shottenstein and he didn't return my call for a story but he is a pretty well-known developer. His company is behind the proposed Millennial Tower that's going to be I think 25 story tower along Scioto mile.

And they've owned it for a while and there's been plans and kind of starts and stops about what will actually go on in there. But they do plan eventually to have this thing called SPARC which is Sports Pavilion and Automotive Research Complex which would be kind of a race track and a research center for automotive technologies.

They have had businesses that have committed to going inside there. But as of now when I went down there to take photos last month. There's not much in the way of actual construction going on. However the city said that within three years they hope to have you know Smart City testing going on at SPARC.

TB: You mentioned Smart City, Columbus won a Smart City Grant, I think it was $50 million. How is Cooper stadium going to be involved with this Smart City grant the received.

TK: Well, the city wants to use SPARC as a sort of testing site right. They're going to have a track in there it would be good to use. The city has various technologies they have, the main thing I think they would they would like to do there is to test out its driverless vans that will be working in the Easton area taking people from Linden to the Easton retail jobs.

So their goal is to use the half mile of paved test track to test out the technologies that will eventually be actually used here in Columbus.

TB: I've been talking with Tom Knox he's with Columbus Business First. Tom thanks for joining me. Thank you.