By Jeff Louderback
To help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Football League, the Cincinnati Bengals are returning to where the league started, and a Dayton landmark will get a facelift as a result.
The Bengals will have a pre-season practice at Triangle Park sometime this summer, NFL vice president Peter Abitante announced on Monday at the league’s annual meeting.
The NFL’s vision for the centennial includes each team holding a “Fantennial” on the weekend leading up to a home game.
“That tie to Dayton and that piece of history is a nice fit,” Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn told Bengals.com. “We’ve enjoyed going up to Dayton to practice in the past and we look forward to this visit that is such a special one for us and the league.”
Located where the Great Miami and Stillwater rivers join in the DeWeese-Ridgecrest neighborhood, Triangle Park was a thriving area when it hosted the NFL’s first game on Oct. 3, 1920. The Dayton Triangles pummeled the Columbus Panhandles.
“The Triangles made off with a 14-0 victory, the touchdowns scored by Lou Patrlow and Francis Bacon, who had starred at Ohio Wesleyan. George ‘Hobby’ Kinderdine kicked the first two extra points. He later would be elected sheriff of Montgomery County,” the late Dayton Daily News sports editor Ritter Collett wrote in his 1996 book “Sports in Dayton: A Bicentennial Celebration of the Dayton Area.”
Dayton is one of eight cities outside the current NFL markets being recognized where original teams were located.
The field where that first game was played field still exists, and it will get a facelift that features the installation of a turf field before the Bengals’ trip and park dedication. The yet-to-be-determined date will be in late July or early August, Bengals.com reported.
Also, Dayton and the other original towns are scheduled to host live telecasts for sixth-round picks in the draft on April 27. Along with Dayton, those places include Akron, Canton, and Columbus in Ohio; Hammond and Muncie in Indiana; Rochester, N.Y.; and Rock Island, Ill.
It’s unclear if Dayton will be the site of a Bengals’ pick.
There were 14 original NFL teams, including two in Chicago. All 13 towns will receive a donation from the league’s foundation “to support local youth football programs, advocate for player safety, and promote football’s values.”
Each team’s Fantennial is a three-day celebration during the weekend of a home game with Friday focused around high school football and Saturday reserved for what Abitante called a fan festival.
Interestingly, the Triangles originated from the basketball team of St. Mary’s College, now known as the University of Dayton. Cadets’ players started a football team upon graduating in 1912. According to Collett’s book, the team name was changed to the Triangles in 1916. It is believed the name derived from either the park’s triangular shape, or to honor the three factories founded by legendary Dayton businessmen Edward Deeds and Charles Kettering, who sponsored the team and donated land for Triangle Park.