GAHANNA, Ohio (WCMH) – As the high school football season begins at Gahanna Lincoln High School, the time has nearly run out for the 95-year-old stadium. Lincoln Stadium opened during the Roaring ’20s. The only cats heard during the first game played here were from the Bexley Lions beating Gahanna Lions 7-0 on Sept. 16, 1927.
“I think it creates a great atmosphere for games,” said senior cheerleader Olivia Doyle of the stadium. “It’s heartbreaking to think we’re losing like so many years of wins, and touchdowns, and alma maters.”
Gahanna illuminated the field during what is considered one of the darker financial times in United States history, the Great Depression. The lighting pierced the darkness and the team played a home game under the lights for the first time on Oct. 9, 1931, according to Gahanna alumnus Jeff Conklin’s research.
On opening night Friday, the school recognized the seniors. This is typically reserved for the final home game of the season. Turning things around, even more, the alumni band played, which usually happens during the homecoming game.
“The word got out that the stadium here is going to be torn down because they are building a new high school,” said the alumni marching band association chairperson Brian Pruitt. “So, this is the last alumni marching band here in this stadium.”
This year, 187 alumni returned to play on their home turf.
“Last year, there were like 60 people, so 180 is pretty crazy,” said senior band member Nicholas Ritchey.
“It’s crazy to think not even this season is going to finish here,” said senior band member Djami Latoudiakit. “When we come back for our alumni night, it’s going to be in a different stadium.”
“It’s bittersweet because we know it’s going to be so much better in the future,” Pruitt said. “It’s going to hit the ‘feels’ pretty hard for me when the destruction comes.”
In the photo below, you can see where the new stadium will be. The new school is represented in the white section. That’s where the current field stands. The new building will include additional general education and elective classrooms as well as new performing arts and athletic facilities. Plus, three distributive dining areas will be spread throughout the floor plan to address congestion during dining hours.
Site Plan GLHS
The plan for the new building is to be about 24% larger than the current facility and will feature a rounded configuration to help address foot traffic issues within the building.
Memories were created at this stadium for nearly anyone who played high school football, soccer, or in a band or attended the events. Gahanna plays in the Ohio Capital Conference with 31 other teams. If you grew up in central Ohio, you have probably attended an event at this stadium.
“People come here, people have great games, people have great losses, but as a [sports] community, we always come together to celebrate as one,” said senior cheerleader Milan Johnson. “It has definitely touched so many more lives than we tend to realize.”
The last chance to make memories at this stadium is during the home game for the Lions scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday. The final time the lights will be turned on will be Saturday, Aug. 27 at a planned “Lights Out” event scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Entry is free to anyone who chooses to attend.