Columbus is host to the National Hockey League All Star game this week-end. The NHL showcase will bring thousands fans and visitors to the city as well as international media attention.
Final Game At Cooper ‘The End of an Era’
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The Columbus Clippers proclaimed it the end of an era. Monday night the Clippers played their final game at the 76-year-old Cooper Stadium.
A few fans were already in the parking at 1 p.m. for the 6 o’clock game between the Columbus Clippers and the Toledo Mud Hens. Rod Charlton and a few others were waiting to get autographs from some of the players. Each said he was a little sad that it was the end of the Cooper era.
“I feel like it’s kind of sad really,” Charlton says. “I hate to see it move uptown because I’m from Dayton and it’s pretty easy to get to here. Rush hour might not be too easy up there but it’s going to be a lot nicer stadium, but a lot of tradition here.”
Charles Shannon says he first visited The Coop in the 1980s.
“I think it’s a shame but I’m all ready for the new ballpark,” Shannon says. “I’d like to see this one stay around, maybe play some high school games here.”
“The last game at Cooper drew Jim Aalderink from the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.
“I think it’s a very sad thing it’s like ah I’m not from Columbus but it’s like saying goodbye to an old friend,” Aalderink says. “It’s like going to a wake. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend for the last time.”
Branch Rickey built the stadium on farmland in 1931 for his team the Columbus Red Birds. It got the name Cooper in 1984, renamed for county commissioner Harold Cooper and it’s been The Coop ever since.
Sprits lifted once the game was underway. Theodore Good says he’s looking forward to the new Huntington stadium but still glad to be at the final night at Cooper.
“I feel very good about it,” Good says. “Knowing that I’m here on the last game. It kind of makes me feel pretty good about that.”
Chas Adams had mixed feelings.
“Actually it’s upsetting, I really look forward to the new stadium but this is a really nice thing for the west side of Columbus, it’s readily available to the people of the west side and it’s cheap and anybody can come over here,” Adams says. “And as much as I look forward to the new stadium I think they’re going to lose a lot of the family atmosphere that they have done here. It’s going to be higher priced, they say it’s going to be the same but It’s going to be harder to park and be more expensive for things and I just don’t think you’re going to be able to bring everybody up for dime-a-dog night and spend $50 for your whole family for the whole night. but at the same token the new stadium’s going to be great it’s going to be packed every night. There’s a lot of ups and downs to both sides, I guess.”
Toni Gilchrist says she was caught up in the excitement.
“I think it’s wonderful, I haven’t been here for a while and it’s very exciting,” Gilchrist says. “I’m sorry we’re losing but that’s okay, somebody has to win, somebody has to lose.”
“It may have been a losing night for the clippers but the team got a standing ovation from the crowd on this last game of the season.
16,770 fans packed the stadium built for 15,000. According to the Clippers’ Ken Schnacke it was the largest crowd in the Clippers’ 32 year history.