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Demolition begins on 78-year-old Akron Rubber Bowl (photos, video)

June 20, 2018

Demolition begins on 78-year-old Akron Rubber Bowl (photos, video)

AKRON, Ohio – Like many Akronites, Mayor Dan Horrigan has fond memories of attending events at the Akron Rubber Bowl. Now, nearly 80 years after it opened its gates to football fans and music lovers, the bowl is coming down.

“Today is a pretty bittersweet moment,” Horrigan told a gathering of media Wednesday at the bowl. “This structure was once a beacon of engineering, of athletic skill and entertainment in our great city. The Rubber Bowl served as a gathering place.”

Horrigan also acknowledged the down side of having the huge decaying structure sit empty for so long, drawing vandals and keeping law enforcement busy patrolling the site.

“After 78 years it’s really time for us to say goodbye,” he said. ” In fact it’s probably little bit overdue in this case. The memories we made will last forever but the Rubber Bowl itself is ready for demolition as you can tell.”

Louisville-based Eslich Wrecking Co., which recently demolished Rolling Acres mall, is managing partial demolition of the Rubber Bowl. About 60 percent of the stadium will be torn down by the end of October.

Crews are beginning with the press box and the side abutting Derby Downs, because engineers determined them to be the most dangerous sections. The side nearest George Washington Boulevard will be left intact as it can’t be removed without disrupting the roadway, engineers have said.

With about 95 percent of the structure made of concrete, disposal will be fairly easy. It will be hauled two miles away to Ohio Concrete Recycling, also owned by the Eslich family.

“A lot of this project will be all over the city,” said John Eslich. “The recycle plant will put it back into service in Akron.”

“The Rubber Bowl is not leaving Akron,” John’s father, Richard Eslich, laughed. “It’ll just look different.”

It will take about 1,000 trips to the concrete recycling facility to dispose of the material from the initial stage of the demolition, the family estimates. The rebar will be taken to the Timken Corp. in Canton for recycling, John Eslich said.

No date has been set for when the remaining portion of the bowl will be taken down.

According to Horrigan, the city has no plan in place as to what will replace the stadium, if anything. The site could be considered for economic development, possibly by the Akron Fulton Airport or Derby Downs, the bowl’s closest neighbors.

“I think the future is bright for this neighborhood as we look forward to celebrating new development in years to come,” he said.

The $200,000 partial demolition project is being paid for through a $100,000 state grant, with the Summit County Land Bank chipping in $50,000 and the city providing another $50,000.

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