MANSFIELD — Arlin Field is getting a long-overdue facelift.
Mansfield Senior’s venerable football stadium at the corner of West Fourth Street and Trimble Road is in the midst of a $1.5 million upgrade. The project includes new LED lights, new fencing, repairs to the facility’s infrastructure and a few fresh coats of paint.
“It’s much needed,” said Senior High football coach Chioke Bradley, who starred for the Tygers in the mid-1990s. “I feel like this stadium is a landmark. It’s an iconic venue, not just in Richland County but across the state.
“When we travel to football camps and clinics across Ohio, a lot of coaches and fans will tell us that Arlin Field is one of the best facilities in the state to watch a high school football game.”
The stadium, named for early radio pioneer and longtime city school board president Harold Arlin, opened in 1947. The 12,500-seat venue replaced Stadium Field, which was located behind the old high school and had a capacity of 6,000.
When Mansfield Senior hosted rival Massillon in 1948, 13,800 fans reportedly jammed the stands. Two years later, the annual grudge match between the Tygers and Tigers drew a reported 13,500 fans.
The stadium’s current capacity is about 10,400, according to Mansfield City Schools director of facilities of Robert Booth.
“Arlin Field … has been the gem of our city,” Mansfield City Schools superintendent Stan Jefferson told WMAN. “We wanted to address some infrastructure that had to be done.”
Jefferson was the head coach at Senior High from 1993 to 2002 before leaving for the Ohio State football staff in 2004. He spent more than a decade at OSU, working under Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer, before returning to Mansfield and taking over as superintendent in June of 2019.
“It’s great to see ‘Coach J’ and the administration have taken an interest in renovating the facility,” said Bradley, who was a senior when Jefferson took over the program in the fall of 1993. “This is something that will be a bright spot for the community for years to come.”
Arlin Field has hosted more than 70 Ohio High School Athletic Association playoff games since the playoff era began in 1972, including more than 20 state semifinal games. It was the site of the 1980 Division V state championship game, a 22-0 Tiffin Calvert win over Newark Catholic.
“We have been asked by the OHSAA to host a number of playoff games,” Jefferson said. “I’m hoping we can continue to host state semifinal games at the various divisions.”
Construction crews already have installed new fencing — the wrought iron-style fencing replaces the unfinished chain link fencing and matches the fencing at the adjacent Kingwood Center.
The bleachers on the home side have been cleaned, primed, sealed, coated and painted and the visiting bleachers are nearing completion. Crews have patched and repaired concrete and still need to re-install the bench seating and put in new handrails.
“We’re also doing some more asphalt work there off Fourth Street down in front of the stadium and between the baseball field,” Roberrt Booth, facilities manager of Mansfield City Schools, told WMAN. “All the drainage will be fixed. The restrooms will be painted. The press boxes have been redone. We’ve got some new doors coming.”
The most anticipated upgrade will be the new LED stadium lighting. Bases for the new poles already are in place.
“It will be like watching the Cleveland Browns or another professional team. The lighting we’re putting up is that grade level,” Booth said of the more energy-efficient lighting system. “With the savings we will have utility-wise, that will help pay for the project.
"It’s important for the community to know we’re trying to save as much money as we can for them. That’s going to help us with some of the projects in the future.”
Future plans call for the renovation of the home and visiting locker rooms and coaches offices. The artificial surface, which was installed in 2011, is nearing the end of its life expectancy and is scheduled to be replaced in the coming years.
The current upgrade project should be completed by the start of the regular season. Mansfield Senior opens the regular season at home against Norwalk on Aug. 20, the first of four straight home games to start the season.
“We’re trying to stay with the now. A lot of college facilities and the bigger high school facilities already have made these kinds of upgrades. I’m glad to see that we’re doing it, too,” Bradley said. “If you put 10,000 people in the stadium, it’s going to make for a memorable experience for the athletes and fans.”