100 years of football: The Reitz Bowl

100 Years of Football

 

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) Friday night at the Reitz Bowl. The environment is virtually unmatched in the state of Indiana. It’s bred 11 state titles for Reitz High School, and unrivaled history on the west side.

Last year, Stadium Talk.com ranked the Reitz Bowl as the best high school football stadium in Indiana. “Playing for Reitz and playing here, every game you know you’ll get a good crowd.” But how did this west side wonder come to be?

The answer might surprise you.

Originally built to be a retaining wall at the high school, one school member noted that with some tweaks, the grassy stretch of field at the base of the school could become a football stadium. And in 1921, that idea was realized. The first retaining wall was built that year, which held a capacity of 3600 people.


“When they started construction of the bowl, the Reitz football program was young and really wasn’t very good. But they had hopes for the future. There was a lot of support on the west side, and a lot of pride in this school and this facility that was being built.”


By 1922, the remainder of the stadium was built, expanding capacity to a whopping 11,000. This year marks a full century since the Bowl’s inception. But even with her 100th birthday, a multitude of facelifts have made the stadium as pretty as ever.


In 1931, new lights allowed the Panthers to play their games at night time. Other additions like a field house, scoreboards, new seating, and turf fields have helped to further modernize the bowl.


The Reitz Bowl has seen an abundance of events pass through its grounds in 100 years. Graduations, college bowl games, and even a three ring circus.


“The facility has been used for everything from war bonds drives during World War II, to hosting graduation at Reitz in the 1930s.”


It may not be the prettiest, or the most state-of-the-art, but no one can argue with a century of history that has made the Reitz Bowl a west side hallmark.


“The bowl has this real classic feel. You see this when teams come down and play either Reitz or Mater Dei. Teams from Indianapolis that are used to playing in front of big crowds that sit in aluminum bleachers that look roughly the same on both sides. When they get off the bus, and they walk up into the bowl and see those concrete seats, it’s got a great old football feel.”

“It’s definitely a great environment. You can’t beat it with too many places in the state, it’s top. Coming out here walking out seeing up to 7-10,000 people for a football game, it’s a special place. And there’s not many like it.”

(This story was originally published on August 24, 2021)

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