Blues, Brews and BBQ to benefit restoration of Spartan Stadium

By Tom Corrigan -

An aerial view of Spartan Municipal Stadium.

An aerial view of Spartan Municipal Stadium.

This sign commemorates the city’s one time NFL team which called the stadium home.

“This is a first important step,” said Ward 1 Portsmouth City Councilman Sean Dunne, referring to the Blues, Brews and Barbecue event set for noon to 8 p.m. Saturday at Portsmouth’s Spartan Municipal Stadium.

Dunne is one of the chief planners of what he clearly hopes becomes an annual happening, with proceeds from at least the initial celebration benefiting renovation of Spartan Stadium, once home, as many readers likely know, to Portsmouth’s very own NFL team, named, of course, the Spartans.

The team played in the burgeoning NFL from 1930 to 1934, when the team moved to Detroit and renamed the Lions. Before departing however, the Spartans cemented their name in NFL history by taking part unsuccessfully – they lost 9-0 – in what’s generally recognized as the first NFL playoff game played between the Spartans and the Chicago Bears in Chicago in 1932.

But that, as they say, is history. Dunne and others look to the future, a future where they see the historic stadium restored and put to use numerous times a year for various events, such as concerts or other celebrations. It’s all part of the overall plan, Dunne said, to help Portsmouth better become a place to visit and a fun, worthy place to live.

The Spartan Municipal Stadium Renovation Project is sponsoring Saturday’s event with an assist from the Friends of Portsmouth. As the name of the event implies, music, craft beer and, Dunne hopes, a not overly friendly barbecue competition are all part of the plan.

The entertainment includes approximately six bands and musicians, including headliner Patrick Sweany, a Massillon native with some dozen CD’s to his credit, the most recent being last year’s “Ancient Noise.”

Other acts on the bill include Patrick McLaughlin, Jeremy Short, Creek Don’t Rise and local act Mikey Mike and the Big Unit.

The barbecue competition welcomes both professional and amateurs hoping their pulled pork and or brisket is judged worthy enough to take home part of the $2,000 in prize money available. Plenty of other vendors will be on hand providing a range of extra activities for both adults and children.

Regarding the barbecue competition, Dunne said he honestly hopes there might get to be a little trash talking between the barbecue chefs, including Portsmouth Police Department Officer Chris Hedrick, who apparently is well known for his smoked meatballs. A vegetarian, Dunne said he never tried them but is told they are supposed to be exceptional. Unfortunately, Hedrick works the night shift and was unavailable for trash talking or any other comments.

Not totally incidentally, Dunne for a couple of years was involved in attempts to save and restore two existing films of Spartan games, including one played locally against the New York Giants. A sociology professor at Shawnee State University, Dunne worked with fellow SSU professor John Lorentz to last year get the restored films accepted and catalogued in the Library of Congress. The task was not an easy one as at least one of the films was a silver nitrate film, basically meaning it was coated with a hazardous substance. For that reason, the NFL Hall of Fame, located in Canton, had to decline to take the films.

Last year, both Lorentz and Dunne hoped the restoration of the films somehow would add to what they saw as a growing restoration of the spirit of Portsmouth.

In the end, Lorentz pretty much summed things up. He insisted Portsmouth has all the pieces in place to be vibrant again.

“What has been lacking is leadership and will. I believe that is changing. I see all sorts of positives out there which the populace as a whole has not yet perceived, but … momentum is shifting and will gain stronger headway as it sinks in that things are no longer spiraling downwards but are moving in the right direction.”

Tickets for Blues, Brews and Barbecue are $25 per person for adult general admission. Adult VIP tickets are available for $60 per person. All tickets include three sample tickets, with VIP ticket holders gaining upfront seating and a free event T-shirt. Children under 10 are free.

Tickets are available at numerous spots around town, including Port City Pub, 7pour0, Deadbolt, the Boneyfiddle Riddle Room, the Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce and the Friends of Portsmouth Welcome Center.

Tickets also are available online through Eventbrite at Finally, tickets will be available at the door the day of the event for $35 each.

An aerial view of Spartan Municipal Stadium. aerial view of Spartan Municipal Stadium.

This sign commemorates the city’s one time NFL team which called the stadium home. sign commemorates the city’s one time NFL team which called the stadium home.

By Tom Corrigan

Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.