Fawcett Stadium seats for sale: ‘So many memories’

CANTON, Ohio-- Built in the late 1930s, Fawcett Stadium in Canton has a very unique history.

At one time, it was the largest high school football stadium in the country; it also played host to many of the best professional football players ever to play the game.

Over the past year, the historic stadium has been gradually taken down, replaced with a more modern stadium on the same property next door to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But before demolition crews erased the old structure, J. R. Rinaldi of the Canton Board of Education asked to have one chance to go in and salvage what he could for historic purposes.
"So many memories," said Rinaldi.

"I had the opportunity to work for Tom McDaniels, head coach at Mckinley High School, and he always taught us that history is important. Never forget. You don't have to relive it every day, but just make sure you honor and respect it," he added.

Along with his son and a friend, Rinaldi was given a short window of opportunity to go inside the stadium and salvage what he could.

They were able to get parts of the stadium's bleachers and their brackets.

"Being able to go back in and cut some seats out and save some brackets, so some of these guys that played there in the 40s and 50s and 60s can get a seat, get a bracket and hang it on their wall and tell their grandkids all the lies about how they scored 20 touchdowns in one game against the McKinley Bulldogs," said Rinaldi.

The seats are being sold to raise money for the Canton school's athletic programs and the interest has been great.

"The effort to sell these to raise money for the high school goes beyond Canton, Ohio or Stark County," explained Tim Haverstock, the program director at the J. Babe Stern Community Center in Canton, who also used to play football at Fawcett Stadium.

"One of the interesting things is the ultimate fans, which are a nationwide (pro football) group expand from coast to coast and even international. They are requesting seats because they see it as a Pro Football Hall of Fame stadium, so for them to get a little piece of that history is huge," said Haverstock.

The seats and the brackets are being sold at the community center and at the ticket office of McKinley High School for $25 each.

Rinaldi says the interest has been very high and as of Friday they were disappearing very quickly.

"We have some of our season ticket holders that grew up as children coming to the game with parents who have had the same seats for 50 years and so for them to be able to get a little piece of the stadium as a memento and a keepsake, they are thrilled," said Greg Malone, Mckinley High School's athletic director.

Malone says the fans can not only own a piece of history but at the same time the students in the district's athletic programs are benefiting from the sale, and in that way everybody involved is a winner.

"And that's not always the case in athletics," said Malone.