PORTSMOUTH, OH (WOWK) – Although the Portsmouth Spartans left town nearly 100 years ago, their memory still lives on.
The Spartans played their first season in 1928 and joined the NFL in 1930. But the costs of running a team were too high, and the team moved to Detroit in 1934.
“The cost of contracts for the stars were getting pretty high by the time you get to the late 1920s and early 30s,” Dr. Andrew Feight, director of the Center of Public History at Shawnee State University said.
Feight has studied the Spartans and runs the Scioto Historical App, which details the history of Portsmouth.
“The Spartans are really a part of the early days of the NFL,” he said. “[They] went on to create a great team that had a really strong record but ultimately couldn’t make it here in the tri-state.”
Although they never won a championship in Portsmouth, the Lions, using many of the Spartans’ former players, won the NFL Championship in 1935.
Even though the team left in the 1930s, Spartan Municipal Stadium is still standing. Portsmouth Mayor Sean Dunne is hoping to use grant money to help preserve the stadium so that future generations can use it for football, concerts or festivals.
“I think we want to do is move from looking at the stadium as far as this is what the city used to be as far as an NFL team but now what it’s come back to and that would include using this stadium for a variety of cultural events,” Dunne said. “I would very much like it continued to be used for football. But also we want kids to continue to play football but also open it up to other events like outdoor music events like we’ve done and other events that would bring in the community.”