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The Columbus Dispatch (Ohio)
Obetz will spend $15 million to build an athletic stadium that will host professional lacrosse and rugby, and village officials hope the 6,500-seat stadium also will attract high school football playoff games and other events.
"It's super exciting," Obetz Village Manager E. Rod Davisson said Wednesday.
Obetz, less than 10 miles south of Downtown, plans a joint news conference today with the Ohio Machine professional lacrosse franchise to talk about the stadium. The plan is to call it Fortress Field, and fans are to pass through a "fortress" of rehabbed shipping containers to enter the stadium.
Checking out both large stadiums and high-school-size 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 to its 250-acre complex.
As The Dispatch reported Oct. 21, the closed Columbus Motor Speedway, which occupies the Obetz site, will be leveled and replaced with the athletic field.
The stadium must be ready before May, when the Ohio Aviators of Pro Rugby North America are to open their home season there. The Ohio Machine's first home game is to be at the stadium on May 6.
Ohio Machine officials say the stadium will be the first in the United States designed for professional lacrosse. That means the field will be international-size; that's larger than an American football field, which is where many rugby and lacrosse games are played in this country.
The Ohio Machine played its 2016 home games at Ohio Dominican University on the Near East Side, where it averaged about 1,900 fans. In its first four seasons, it played home games at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware.
One of the 2017 highlights of the new stadium is what Davisson said will be the first football game in 50 years between the high schools in the Groveport Madison and Hamilton Local school districts, both of which serve Obetz. Davisson said the teams will play for the inaugural Obetz Cup.
The new stadium will be equipped with the latest version of FieldTurf, an artificial turf that used to consist of ground-up tires and fake grass.The material on this field, Davisson said, will be softer and more flexible than crumb rubber, which should help reduce injuries when athletes' heads hit the turf.
The stadium is to feature six or seven new video boards, television cameras, extra women's restrooms and luxury seating.
Obetz plans to finance the stadium with bonds that will be paid for by the village over several years.
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