Obetz to build 6,500-seat stadium for pro sports teams

17 November 2016

Obetz will spend $15 million to build an athletic stadium that will host professional lacrosse and rugby, and with the hope that the 6,500-seat stadium also will attract high-school football playoffs and other events.

"It's super exciting," Obetz Village Manager E. Rod Davisson said Wednesday.

Obetz, less than 10 miles south of Columbus, will hold a news conference Thursday along with the Ohio Machine professional lacrosse team to talk about the stadium. The plan is to call it Fortress Field, and attendees will pass through a fortress of rehabbed shipping containers to get into the stadium.

Checking out both very large stadiums and high-school-sized stadiums in central Ohio, Davisson said Obetz opted for a niche stadium of 6,500 seats so it could attract a variety of athletic events, concerts, trade shows and other entertainment on its 250-acre complex.

As The Dispatch reported Oct. 21, the closed Columbus Motor Speedway, which sits on the Obetz site, will be leveled and replaced with the athletic field. It must be ready before May, when the Ohio Aviators of Pro Rugby North America open their home season there. Not long after, the Ohio Machine's first home game will be at the stadium, on May 6.

Ohio Machine officials say the stadium will be the first U.S. stadium to be designed specifically for professional lacrosse. It means it will be an international-sized field, larger than the American football field on which many rugby and lacrosse games are played in the United States.

Ohio Machine played its 2016 home games at Ohio Dominican University, where it averaged about 1,900 people in attendance. Before that, it played home games for its first three seasons at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware.

One of the highlights of the stadium for 2017 will be what Davisson said will be the first football game in 50 years between high schools in the Groveport Madison and Hamilton Local school districts, the two districts that serve Obetz. Davisson said the teams will play for the inaugural Obetz Cup.

The stadium will be equipped with the newest version of field turf, an artificial turf that used to consist of ground up tires and fake grass. The new in-fill material on this field, Davisson said, will be softer and more flexible than ground-up tires and should help cut down on injuries when athletes' heads hit the turf.

The stadium will feature six or seven new video boards, television cameras, extra women's restrooms and luxury seating. Obetz will finance the stadium with bonds that will be paid for from the village coffers over several years.