The Ohio High School Athletic Association cross country state championships are moving to Fortress Obetz, a 50-acre multi-purpose sports complex with a 6,500-seat grandstand located in Obetz on the southeast side of Columbus, OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass announced Wednesday.
Fortress Obetz opened in 2017 on the former site of the Columbus Motor Speedway. The racing that will now take place there in early November represents one of the largest high school cross country events in the country, with more than 11,000 fans.
Of significance, much of the course will be visible from the 6,500-seat grandstands, which will lead to a greater experience for fans and participants.
“We can’t wait for our student-athletes and Ohio’s entire cross country community to experience the state championships at Fortress Obetz,” said Snodgrass. “This facility is so impressive, from the course layout for the competitors to being more spectator friendly for the fans and we are thrilled to sign a five-year agreement. We would like to thank National Trail Raceway for hosting the state championships for the last nine years and doing an outstanding job as our host.”
Fortress Obetz was built to host sporting events, concerts, festivals and more. It was the home of the Ohio Machine professional lacrosse team from 2017-19. The facility has five video boards, concessions, restrooms and a huge parking lot.
“The Village of Obetz is extremely proud and excited to partner with the OHSAA,” said Steve Adams, National Director of Athletic Operations and Facilities Promotion. “We feel our Memorial Park and the Fortress is perfectly suited for the OHSAA Cross Country State Tournament. We have created a safe and challenging course for the runners and kept the spectator experience in mind as well.”
The grandstand includes 1,100 flip-down seats, 2,000 bench-back seats and 3,400 bleacher seats.
Scioto Downs, located just south of Columbus, hosted the OHSAA cross country state championships from 1985 through 2010 before the facility added a casino. National Trail Raceway in Hebron, 20 miles east of Columbus, hosted the state championships from 2011 through 2019.