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Campus Buildings

Dial-Roberson

Dial – Roberson Outdoor All-events Stadium

The Dial-Roberson Outdoor All-Events Stadium is named after James and Nidrah Dial, alumni, and coach football coach Arden Robeson.

Background

Under President Belt's administration (1900-1905) athletics began to receive considerably more support than previously. Not until the final year of Dr. Lehr's administration was the need for a gymnasium was discussed, and even then it was seen as much as a facility for the benefit of the military department as for sports. President Belt, by contrast, purchased in 1903 the former Tri-county Fair Grounds on the southeast corner of the village. 

This extensive plot had been used as a fairgrounds between 1883 and 1901. In 1902 it was sold to a local resident, Henry Young, who in turn sold it to Ohio Northern. The northern end of the grounds was sold for building lots and the balance was made into an athletic facility called Alumni Field.

Contemporary descriptions of Alumni Field provided from university catalogs note that facilities were available for baseball, football, lawn tennis and track. No mention, however, was made of a stadium, though some photographs suggest that simple wooden bleachers were provided.

In the spring of 1911, Ohio Northern established a College of Agriculture. The college's farm initially consisted of a parcel of 50 acres on what is now the university's west campus. In 1916 an additional 40 acres were purchased. This land was retained when the college was discontinued in 1923.

West Campus Facilities

After the purchase of the university farm, a part of this land was set aside for athletics, and by 1918 Alumni Field had been abandoned in favor of this new site. The entrance was two blocks west of Brown Hall next to the current Taft Memorial and fairly near the railroad tracks. It was hoped that a suitably imposing sign could be erected marking the entrance since its being visible to railroad passengers would provide additional advertising for the school. 

Plans had been made for improved outdoor athletic facilities at Northern since at least 1916. Although preliminary planning began that year, the project was shelved during the war. By November 1920, however, the school was able to begin work on a baseball field with bleachers. Students assisted in the early part of the project. Later, a football field with a 198-foot section of bleachers was constructed in time for the fall 1921 football season. Students again worked on the facilities, this time with 25 helping to construct the bleachers. The following spring, a cinder track was added around the gridiron and ground was being leveled for a tennis court. The university’s athletic fields were located on this site until just after World War Two.

Ada War Memorial Park

Use of the area for athletic purposes ceased shortly after war’s end. The G.I. Bill allowed many students to attend college, and enrollment at Northern soared. To house these new students, many married, several trailer parks were established on campus, including one on the athletic fields. Fortunately at this time, the citizens of Ada  were considering ways to memorialize their local servicemen. Their decision was the current War Memorial Park with its stadium. Northern arranged to use the stadium in return for financial assistance in maintaining the facility. This mutually beneficial arrangement lasted from 1947 to 2004 when the present Dial-Roberson Stadium was opened on ONU’s west campus..

The new facility was completed in two stages as funds became available. Preliminary planning was underway by February 2000 which permitted phase one to occur during summer 2002. This involved grading the site, installing utilities and some preliminary construction. Phase two of the project began in April 2004 and resulted in a 20,000 square foot facility just east of the existing track. It houses a football stadium, weight rooms, locker rooms and a concessions area. The new stadium was dedicated during the game on September 25, 2004.

The principal contractor was Corna-Kokosing, Inc. and the Planner/ Architect was Miller-Lecky Architects, Inc.

Biographies

Coach Arden “Stretch” Roberson, was born November 9, 1925 in Bettsville, Ohio to Garland and C.C. Roberson. The family moved to Ada in 1938 and Arden graduated from Ada HighSchool in 1943. He attended OSU during the summer of 1943 and was enrolled at Ohio Northern during the fall and winter quarters of 1943-44. Coach Roberson served in the U.S. Navy until spring 1946. He received a BS in Education from Ohio Northern University in 1949 and an MA in Education from Kent State University in 1956.

During the 1950’s, coach Roberson pursued a successful coaching career at several institutions. From 1950 to 1956 he was head basketball coach and backfield football coach at Mentor High School in Mentor, Ohio. The following year we served as head track coach and backfield football coach at Massillon High School, Massillon, Ohio. During 1958 and 1959 he was head basketball coach and backfield football coach and training coach at Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio.

His coaching career at Ohio Northern began in 1960 as head football coach, a position that he held until 1969. From 1969 to 1974 he served as assistant professor of health and physical education at ONU, returning to coaching in 1974. Coach Roberson resumed his position as head football coach until his retirement in 1985.

James Dial graduated from ONU in 1957 with a BA in Education, and Nidrah Roberson Dial received an AA degree from Northern in 1958.

 

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