Middletown to showcase its ‘crown jewel’ in football regional semifinals

The ripple effect of Middletown hosting an Ohio High School Athletic Association football playoff game extends beyond the flat fee it receives from the association.

Middletown High School Athletic Director Aaron Zupka said when a Division III Regional Semifinal is played Friday night at Barnitz Stadium, the district will receive $4,000 from the state. But more important, he said, the Middies football program will receive the revenue from the on-site parking, and the school’s music program is handling concession sales.

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Since the game pits No. 5 seeded Badin (8-3) against top-seeded Kettering Alter (10-1), most of those fans probably never have watched a game at Barnitz Stadium, which received a $1.7 million renovation four years ago. That funding came from a $500,000 grant from the Middletown Community Foundation and private donors.

Badin hasn’t played a game at Barnitz Stadium in 25 years since it lost to Valley View in the 1993 Division III Regional Final. The Rams have played five playoff games at Barnitz, going 3-2. Badin also played two regular season games at Barnitz, against Hamilton High School in 1980 and 1981, according to Badin officials.

Alter never has played a game at Barnitz, said longtime Knights Coach Ed Domsitz.

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Zupka believes the game offers the district an opportunity to showcase one of its “crown jewels.” Barnitz, built in 1950, holds more than 9,000 fans and features field turf.

“We believe it’s one of the best facilities in Southwest Ohio if not the entire state,” Zupka said.

Zupka was notified Sunday by the OHSAA that it was interested in Middletown hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2016, he said.

His response: “Absolutely.”

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People outside the district also are excited thousands of spectators will be in the city Friday night. They hope those fans arrive early, stay late, visit the revitalized downtown and patronize businesses in the entertainment district.

"Now is an exceptionally exciting time for our community, and we are ready to showcase all the new experiences for the teams and their friends and families," said Mary Huttlinger, executive director of the Middletown Visitors Bureau.

She said with "a vibrant downtown area" and the DORA (Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area), Middletown is "a great place for the unexpected and new discoveries" before or after the game.

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Middletown Mayor Larry Mulligan said the city is “thrilled” to be hosting the game and he hopes visitors will take in some of the new shops and restaurants in Middletown during their visit.

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WHAT: Division III Regional Semifinal, Badin, 8-3, vs. Kettering Alter, 10-1

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Cris Carter Field at Barnitz Stadium, 1211 S. Main St. in Middletown

HOW MUCH: Pre-sale tickets at Badin High School (571 New London Road in Hamilton) are $8 and tickets at the gate are $9. Parking is $5.

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