John D. Sulsberger Stadium
John D. Sulsberger Memorial Stadium has been the home to Zanesville High School athletics since it opened for the final football game of the 1964 season, in tribute to former Blue Devils football star John Sulsberger, an All-Ohio lineman who died of leukemia not long after graduating from ZHS. His parents, Dr. J. Diehl and Mrs. Elizabeth Sulsberger, provided the financial boost to build the on-campus football facility their only son had dreamed about during his playing days. Not only has it been the site of many great ZHS sports memories, it has also hosted many Ohio High School Athletics Association post-season events as well as being a site for graduations, marching band competitions and other large community events.
Facts about Sulsberger Stadium
Construction Started — June 1964
Dedication Game — November 13, 1964, vs. Newark High School (estimated attendance — 8,000)
Construction Cost (actual) — $278,000 Construction Cost (today’s dollars) — $1,782,000
Seating Capacity — 6,000
Subsequent Improvement Projects
1970s — Wooden bleacher seats replaced with aluminum.
1980s — Field lighting upgraded.
1990 — Installation of 8-lane all-weather track.
1998 — Construction of main entrance gate, including new walls, gate and “Wall of Pride” brick project.
In 1998, the main entrance to John D. Sulsberger Memorial Stadium was reconstructed with a brick entryway augmented by wrought iron work. As part of the project, the ZHS Quarterback Club sold engraved bricks that have been placed along the walkway inside the main entrance.
2000 — Renovation of locker room.
2007 — Installation of the Lee Eric Vinsel Memorial and Memorial Grove.
On October 26, 2007, a special memorial was dedicated in memory of former ZHS football player Lee Eric Vinsel (Class of 1971), who was killed by a lightning strike very near the memorial site at the main entrance to Sulsberger Stadium. In addition, trees purchased to honor other former Blue Devils and supporters are now being planted in a nearby memorial grove that will augment the main entrance area. This area is known as the “Lee Eric Vinsel Memorial & Sulsberger Stadium Memorial Grove.”
Blue Devils fans know the legend — John Sulsberger once pointed out to his football teammates where a nice stadium could be built on the ZHS campus — and that’s exactly where one was built following his tragic death in 1963. On Aug. 28, 2009, prior to the Blue Devils’ game with Newark, a special donor recognition area was dedicated and it includes a life-sized statue of John Sulsberger, created by local sculptor Alan Cottrill.
John D. Sulsberger Stadium
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