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Akron Rubber Bowl Moves One Step Closer to Demolition

photo of Rubber Bowl

The Akron Rubber Bowl is one step closer to the wrecking ball. Its owners have less than a month to pay off hundreds of thousands in back taxes or forfeit the crumbling, 77-year-old arena.

Canton-based Team 1 Marketing owes close to $200,000  in back taxes. If left unpaid, the arena would go to the Summit County Land Bank, which says it will likely donatee the land to the City of Akron. Executive Director Patrick Bravo says his group is often a conduit since it obtains properties and then gives them to adjacent landowners who will be able to pay taxes. And he says that might be what happens here.

“That property could be developable, or it could be ultimately transferred to someone like the Soapbox Derby or the folks at the [Akron Fulton] Airport. So there are some adjacent property owners there, but that’s something the city’s going to have to evaluate.”

The Rubber Bowl was home to the University of Akron Zips until 2008. Since then, it’s been sitting abandoned on the city’s east side near Fulton Airport and constitutes a health risk, as Bravo observed during a recent inspection.

“There were kids playing on the property and one hanging over the side of the top of the press box.”

Bravo says the city will likely demolish the Rubber Bowl. The initial cost would be about $200,000 just to remove immediate hazards such as the press box and possibly to build a fence around the arena.

Team 1 bought the property in 2013 with plans to turn it into an arena football venue, but that fell through when the league collapsed. The company then proposed a deal for the city to take over the arena and lease it for music festivals, but that was rejected by City Council earlier this year.

The Rubber Bowl had a capacity of more than 35,000 people -- about the same as Progressive Field and second only to FirstEnergy Stadium among Northeast Ohio venues.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.