Hello again, I come to you today from the ruins of the old Akron Rubber Bowl. Okay, so it’s not quite ruins but four years of abandonment really takes its toll on a stadium. Come with me on this journey into what happens to old stadiums.
In 1940, the University of Akron decided that having a single stadium for both baseball and football was no longer feasible. Buchtel field was relived of its duties, and thus gave way to the new Akron Rubber Bowl, aptly named for the rubber capital of the world, and home of Goodyear Tire Company, Akron, Ohio.
This stadium was state of the art back then, seating over 35,000 rabid fans and built into the side of a hill, which made entering the stadium a breeze from both ends. Fast-forward about seventy years to 2008. Akron has a shiny new stadium right on campus, Infocision Stadium, and has no further need for the venerable, if not outdated, old field. And that was that, the stadium was basically set to abandonment.
Four years later, my buddy and I are taking a trip to an Akron Soccer game (see last week’s riveting installment of the series) and we had some time before the game. I looked and saw that the old stadium is still there so we set off to check it out. After parking by the main gate, we realized just how abandoned the Rubber Bowl really was.
The word “post-apocalyptic” comes to mind when you look at the old Akron Rubber Bowl. It was as if they just left everything as it lied and took off. There were ever piles of unused 2009 football programs just strewn about. It really hit that this place was suddenly left to rot when we looked through a broken door window and saw knee braces, football cleats, and athletic tape just laying at the edge of the field. I had never seen anything like that.
But it’s not all dower though. It seems that the old stadium might get a second chance. It looks like a group wants to buy the stadium and make it into the home of the Akron Fire football team in the new USFL. Nothing is for sure yet but it is an exciting prospect.
Another cool thing about the Rubber Bowl is that it shares its space with “Derby Downs,” the local soap-box derby track. Sadly, no one was running at that time but it was cool to see something new like that.
So join me next week when I will bring to you another adventure that I get myself (and most likely my friends) into. These pictures might give you a hint on what to expect next (or it might be a complete giveaway).
But until next week, Happy Snappin’!
Tim Pawlak (aka 110isnotdead on LOMO) is a Librarian, writer, photographer and amateur historian (gotta use that History Degree somewhere). Massillon, Ohio (about an hour south of Cleveland) is where he calls home. He loves to get the feel of every new town he comes to and capture it on film. So if you make your way down the Tuscarawas River, you’ll probably find him.