Ohio State football: Tour de 'Shoe

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

You've probably walked up to the nosebleed seats or enjoyed a game or two from the student section. But you might not know about another world beneath, above and between the bleachers. Here's a look behind the scenes at some of the 'Shoe's hidden treasures.

Glass Act

Every sacred place deserves its own stained glass. Adorning the rotunda at the south end are three giant colored panes, including this simple tribute to squad, school and state. They were designed by Tom Cullen, a Dublin artist.

Life of Luxury

Perhaps the best seats in the house lie in 81 hospitality suites located on three levels. These, adjacent to the Huntington Club lounge and just above the lower bowl, offer plush seating indoors, cushioned stadium chairs outside, two TVs, wet bar, bathroom, catering service and, of course, privacy.

Turf's Up

FieldTurf, an artificial surface that replaced grass before the 2007 season, is softer than most synthetics and more stable than natural green stuff. Between tiny individual blades of fake grass lie rubber particles on top of sand and silica, which make the surface more forgiving.

Sign of the Times

The stadium has remembered gridiron legends and good seasons - just never like this. New in 2009 are backlit marquees for players with retired numbers (Les Horvath, Vic Janowicz, Howard Cassady, Archie Griffin, Eddie George, Bill Willis) and national championships (1942, 1954, 1957, 1961, 1968, 1970, 2002).

Banner Years

Also new this year are a series of full-color tapestries highlighting the most memorable stars in school history. Archie Griffin's hangs between columns above the western gates.

Bowled Over

Behold the most impressive stadium in college football, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Its dimensions are as impressive as the view from C Deck. Circumference: 2,892 feet. Length: 919 feet. Width: 679 feet.

Don't Look Down

You must overcome many things to cover OSU football, including a sense of vertigo when stepping into the stadium's numerous glass-fronted media rooms. Completed in 2001, during the most recent renovation, they sit atop the western edge - about 155 feet above the field.

Media Mayhem

The press box is 504 feet long and 49 feet deep, a room designed to hold 215 print reporters and 160 broadcasters. Special suites on the same level house coaches from home and visiting teams and other important personnel, who are given aerial views to watch plays unfold.

Making Music

The Best Damn Band in the Land has, it seems, one of the best on-site practice resources in the country. Located near gate 10 in the northeast curve, the 22,000-square-foot Joan Zieg Steinbrenner Band Center includes offices, a library and practice rooms. Unbelievable acoustics in the main rehearsal space make it feel as though you're talking into a black hole.

Major Achievement

In 1920, Edwin "Tubby" Essington asked the OSU athletic director if the band could come to Ohio Field and play "The Star-Spangled Banner" before a football game. The rest is history. Breaking with staid tradition, OSU's first drum major was the first to twirl his baton and strut his stuff. His costume, dating from 1920, is the highlight of the band center's memorabilia.