UPDATE @ 11:12 a.m.:
The NFL Foundation will build a new turf field in Dayton to recognize the city’s contribution to the history of America’s most popular sport.
The first National Football League game was played at Triangle Park on Oct. 3, 1920, between the Dayton Triangles and the Columbus Panhandles.
In honor of that historic event, the NFL Foundation will pay to install a new artificial turf field in the city, which is expected to host a Cincinnati Bengals practice in late summer.
Dayton Deputy City Manager Joe Parlette said the new field will be near the baseball field on a green space previously used for flag football.
On Monday, a writer for the Bengals.com, the Cincinnati NFL team’s official website, reported that the Bengals will hold a practice in Triangle Park, likely in late July or early August.
The field at Triangle Park will get a facelift, including the installation of a turf field, in time for the Bengals’ trip to Dayton, the report states.
“This is a really special moment for our city,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley in a statement. “We’re excited that the NFL is recognizing the places that were there in the very beginning and that they are celebrating Dayton’s special history in paving the way for the league with a donation that will leave a lasting impact in the community.”
The field will be available for youth football teams and organizations to rent for an affordable price, said Parlette, as well as a practice field for high school football teams.
The field will have a fence, but won’t have bleachers or a restroom.
“This is a very significant investment for the community,” Parlette said. “One thing that the NFL wanted to be certain of is that we were a community that would benefit and actually needed this and I assured them that we did not have ample access for youth football teams and organizations to an all-season surface.”
The field is expected to be completed by late June or early July.
The NFL Foundation also said it will make donation to each of the 13 “original towns” of the NFL to support local youth football programs. Dayton and seven other “original towns” outside the current 32 NFL markets will host live telecasts during day 3 of the draft.
Other original towns that are no longer NFL markets include Akron (Akron Pros), Canton (Canton Bulldogs), Columbus (Columbus Panhandles), Decatur, Ill. (Decatur Staleys), Hammond, Ind. (Hammond Pros), Muncie, Ind. (Muncie Flyers), Rochester, N.Y. (Rochester Jeffersons) and Rock Island, Ill. (Rock Island Independents).
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said, “There’s no better way to bring the League’s hundred years of history full circle than to partner with these communities and recognize their important place in history as part of the NFL’s centennial celebration.”
“It’s really exciting just to be a part of the 100-year celebration and recognition that the Dayton Triangles played and won by the way the first game in the NFL,” said Parlette. “...I consider it the crown jewel of their celebration.”
Triangle Park has a plaque commemorating the NFL’s first football match, but a new field would draw a lot more attention to the historic significance of the park, said Matt Herrlein, president of the DeWeese-Ridgecrest Civic Association.
More people likely have seen the locker room of the Dayton Triangles at Carillon Park than have viewed the plaque and realized the site was part of NFL history, he said.
Herrlein said he likes the idea of re-creating the first NFL game at the turf field on the actual 100-year anniversary.
“It could be a very fun event,” he said. “I’m sure there’s young guys who would want to run around in leather helmets.”
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