After 55 years the gates of Stafford Stadium, which opened in 1957 for the first time, will close after Saturday’s Maple Heights Mustang’s Varsity Football game is played. The stadium which originally sat about 4,000 spectators and boasted locker rooms was condemned twice. Lights for the stadium were donated by the Class of 1957.
It was first condemned in the late 1970’s. The press box and top 12 rows of bleachers were removed and the locker rooms were turned into storage. Since there were no locker rooms, football players came dressed to play and used classrooms in Stafford during half-time.
Then in the early 1990’s the stadium was condemned a second time. For 2 years the Mustangs didn’t play any home games, during third year, Athletic Director Bob Geiser remembers superintendent, Henry Rish, insisted on two home games and everyone brought lawn chairs to sit in while watching the game. One of those games was against Willoughby and went into triple overtime. The new grand stand, restrooms and concession stand were financed by a loan and the sale of seats in the stadium. These seats can be found in the top four or five rows in front of the press box and bear name plates. Some people even sat in the seats that they had purchased. The bleachers on the visitor’s side were built by the vocational welding class in the early 1990’s, under the direction of Bob Snyder. Currently the home team uses locker rooms inside the Milkovich Middle School while the away team’s locker room is a portable trailer. In this 1991 Maple Schools Today you can see what the grandstand looked like before it was condemned in the early ’90’s and learn about how funding for sports works.
Boy’s Head Track Coach, Thomas Osborne, remembered that the last home track meet was run in 1991. Geiser added that other schools didn’t want to run on cinders because the new all-weather tracks were faster and that they were unable to get cinders for the track.
In addition to hosting football games and track meets, the stadium also served as the starting point and the finish line for home Cross Country meets.
Remembering Stafford: Home of the Mustangs
I asked Maple Alumni and Coaches to share their memories about Stafford. Here are a few:
1957: Commencement Ceremony took place at Stafford Stadium.
I remember going to the stadium as a child with my dad to see the “California Cuties”. They were a women’s baseball team. I think it was back in the late 50’s. -Beverly Tobik
Barb Svenson, ’57, remembers activity cards which cost $3/semester and would get you into any school activity.
I graduated in 75. In 74 of my senior year the cc team qualified for states and finished 9th. Then the following year the team finished 2nd. I’ll always remember at home meets, how the football team would all line up and cheer us on as we re-entered the stadium to finish the race. Now that was showing Mustang Pride. -Bob Schroeder
I can remember during spring break in 1975, the Shot Putters were supposed to stow the implements. Instead, they rolled ( I should say BOWLED) them into the locker room under the stands. They were so accurate that they hit the toilet & shattered the bowl! -Robert Doward Williamson, Jr.
Ladd Biro shared with me about his memories in the MHHS marching band. He recalled to me the strong bond of unity that the band camp built into the band as they practiced maneuvers like the “double diamond” and how all the music had to be memorized. He remembers hearing other Band Directors at Bandarama’s saying that the Maple Heights Marching Band had the “sweetest sound around.” The band (and choir) program(s) at Maple had many successful musicians (and vocalists) which put together a CD to help raise money for the Alumni Association.
…about all I recall is my 1-9 [football] team ruining Shaker’s perfect season . -Eric Snodgrass
In 1984, the Cross Country team did a 24-hour run to raise money to go to an invitational in McQuaid, New York. We ran overnight at Stafford stadium, taking turns doing laps – it was one of my most memorable CC events. -Rob Gura
My unfortunate contribution from high atop the press box, where I was the videographer for the football team for 20 years: I got to witness Robert Smith (Euclid, Ohio State, NFL, TV commentator) score 7 touchdowns (more or less) in the first half in his senior game against MHHS, fall 1989. – George Belden, “Mr. B”
1980’s Powder Puff Football games between the Junior and Senior girls, still have the Cheerleaders arguing over who was the “prettiest”. Here is a 1987 Maple Schools Today show covering the Powder Puff game.
Head boy’s track Coach from 1989-1993, Thomas Osborne, remembers Corwyn Collier, who now teaches history at MHHS, “ran all relays with blazing speed and was exceptional in the hurdles.” He also recalls the team winning two trophy’s for the trophy case: a first place at Orange Relays (Orange High) and 2nd place at Knights Relays (Nordonia High). He remembers Dwight Tuttle who qualified for state in the 200M and Vince Hunt who jumped 6’5″ for the Maple Heights High School high jump record at Orange Relays and Lynn Anderson who tied it a few years later.
2009: Mustang State Runner-up (Football)
2010: Mustangs were State Champions (Football)
The new stadium, which has affectionately become known as the “Mustang Corral”, is projected to be finished in the spring of 2014. The new stadium will seat 5000, making Maple Heights eligible to host play-off games. The field will be Turf, the all-weather track will have 8 lanes and there will be room for all the field events except discus. The scoreboard will have video capabilities. The Board of Education is looking into selling the naming rights of the stadium.
Stafford Stadium will be used in the future by Milkovich Middle School.