News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc.

Hospice of the Western Reserve

Levin Furniture

For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us

A Rubber Bowl re-do in the works
A great football tradition and a historic stadium may bring a team to Akron

Tim Rudell
Sean Mason opens the gate at the Rubber Bowl. He hopes to bring a USFL franchise to town
Courtesy of Rudell
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
Bringing professional football back to the Akron-Canton area and life back to the old Rubber Bowl are goals of a Canton entrepreneur. And WKSU's Tim Rudell reports that he's getting close to doing both.
Rubber Bowl re-do

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:39)

A comeback for the USFL
The United States Football League folded in 1987 after a five year run, plagued by franchise and financial woes. But, it is coming back, at least in name; and likely coming to Northeast Ohio. This USFL will be very different though: more of a football version of minor league baseball.

The new league kicked off its national tour of prospective franchise locations in Akron. Portland, Memphis, San Antonio, and Columbus are among other cities on the list. 

City offers verbal support
Akron Service Director Rick Merolla says in its current fiscal situation the city can’t do a lot directly to move a deal forward, but he would like to see the USFL come to town. “It seems like it is well run. It seems like they’re working closely with the NFL to not compete with them during the season. It's going to be a spring season; and kind of a feeder system for the NFL.”

Merolla also likes the USFL’s new business model. “Each team is going to have to put up enough funds to guarantee that players and coaches can get paid in case it folds — so they don’t leave people out hanging, as other leagues have done.”

Akron Rubber Bowl could be ideal
Canton businessman Sean Mason made his money in marketing. He heads the prospective local ownership group, and says the USFL is keenly interested in where games would be played. Mason says the Akron Rubber Bowl could be ideal. It has size, with easy access from I-77, and is a legendary sports venue in northeast Ohio. 

So, he’s negotiating to buy it from the University of Akron. He won’t say what he’s offering, but took me on a tour of what needs fixing — including replacement of all the seats, and a lot more: “The press box will remain the same, we’re just going to freshen it up. But the bottom will be luxury suites…and we’re talking to the architects about extending them all the way around. And then making a walk way. And you’d walk right into the suits from the back.” 

$7-8 million cost
The city of Akron’s Merolla elaborated earlier on how much the renovation could cost, saying an old estimate of $7 or $8 million may be outdated. "It’s probably north of that now, but I know they have looked at it in their due diligence and the numbers did not scare them. You don’t have to do everything up front. You can do some things to get into it, and then as revenue comes in do more later.”  

While Sean Mason takes some of his bankers around the Rubber Bowl, his wife Stacey, who hasn’t been to the stadium before, is watching a plane land at Akron’s Fulton airport right next door…and talks about her impressions of the former home of the Akron Zips football team. “It’s beautiful. He warned me that I might say ‘what were you thinking?’ But my reaction is that it is beautiful. It’s a bit overwhelming. But it’s a real football stadium”

More than football
She says her husband Sean is considering the site for other kinds of the entertainment. “He’s looking at concerts. I’m a Christian, and even Christian concerts…it’s going to be exciting.”

Sean Mason says he expects to sign with the USFL by September and then move quickly onto picking players, tryouts, training camp and, by next spring, be playing games. And he’s already working on a name for the team: the Akron Fire. 

(Click image for larger view.)

Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

New options in Ohio for secular wedding ceremonies
Hello Mike, I support this action. I was not previously aware of the difficulty couples may encounter in locating officials to serve in their non-religious mar...

Northeast Ohio prepares for the next refugees -- whoever they may be
What a better place to place refugees than in the Midwest cities that have a steady population decline. These refugees will bring much to the culture and the ec...

Charter reform bill includes controversial change for some teachers
I work for a former White Hat charter school; it was sold to another (for-profit) company this past summer and we were told that they would not pay into STRS/PE...

Bhutanese resettlement has had a big economic impact
Informative especially for nonmembers of North Hill. I appreciate the fact that you mention that the younger generation has an easier time than the elders but t...

Ottawa County Commissioner sworn in as new house member
Congratulations on your new appointment to the Ohio House. I'm certain you will do an outstanding job in your new role representing our district. When you have...

Holden Arboretum opens a new canopy walk and emergent tower
Visited the Holden Arboretum today to witness the incredible work you did constructing the tower and bridges.WOW! Very impressed. Knew the build had to be great...

Local club works to bring back the once-prevalent American elm
I would love to help! Where would I get some of the new Strain so I could plant them?

Four Geauga school districts consider consolidating on the Kent State campus
Berkshire was smart to merge with Ledgemont because it had shrinking enrollment and excess capacity at its high school. Now that Cardinal is dragging its feet ...

Ohio Rep. John Boccieri sworn into office and hopes to look for 'middle ground' with colleagues
Welcome back to the Statehouse, John. You are a terrific representative in the truest sense always representing the people's voice in teh district you serve. ...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University