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Wilson NFL painted on white water tower in Ada Ohio

Visiting "The Football Capital of the World"

Over 700,000 footballs a year have been handmade in Ada, it's no wonder it's the sports "capital."

Wilson NFL water tower in Ada

Visiting "The Football Capital of the World"

By Dominique King

Posted On: Sep 6, 2021

Looking for a quick weekend getaway to somewhere we hadn't been in the past, I ended up at a link for The Inn at Ohio Northern University.

ONU's charming campus offers a lot of amenities and activities you might expect from a larger school, along with a friendly, small-town atmosphere, but many sports fans know Ada better as the "football capital of the world."

footballs at wilson football factory in ada ohio

Ada is home to the Wilson Football factory that produces leather footballs for every major gridiron content in the country.

You wouldn't guess it from the exterior of the unassuming factory building we found on one of Ada's side streets, but the company supplies all NFL official game balls and footballs for the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl, the NCAA and footballs for many other leagues around the country.

exterior of wil;son football factory in ada ohio
Photo credit: Midwest Guest

The factory employs about 120 workers who produce as many as 4,000 footballs per day, or 700,000 footballs per year. In the past, Wilson has occasionally hosted tours or displays of their vintage football collection during special events.

statue of polar bear mascot Klondike looking out at Dial-Roberson football Stadium Ohio Northern University in Ada Ohio
Photo credit: Midwest Guest

Sports fans can also head over to the ONU campus to see athletes compete in about 20 varsity sports. Klondike, the school's polar bear mascot, watches over the

ONU began as a normal school (or teacher's college) during the late 1800s and accepted women as students and faculty from its earliest years. It later expanded with colleges for subjects like business, engineering, pharmacy and law. The United Methodist Church purchased Ohio Normal University in 1900, renaming it Ohio Northern University in 1903. The school remains a private, Methodist-affiliated institution today.

ONU once had a farm for its Agricultural College (disbanded in 1923). The school retained ownership of the farmland, giving the 300-acre campus a spacious feel and room for outdoor amenities like an 18-hole disc golf course and ONU's fabled "Green Monster," a 2.5-mile paved jogging path that circles campus.

Artwork on campus includes a dozen Western-themed, cast-bronze statues by artists like Frederic Remington, Charles Russell and James Fraser placed along the Green Monster between an apartment complex and the sports stadium. This section of the path earned the name "Remington Walk" because the statues are Remington reproductions. ONU has several galleries and fine arts exhibition venues, as well as the Freed Center for the Performing Arts, which hosts music, dance, lecture and theater performances. 

Inn at Ohio Northern University in Ada Ohio
Photo credit: Midwest Guest

We stayed on campus at the Inn at Ohio Northern University. The inn is within easy walking distance of ONU attractions like the performing arts center, galleries, public art, sports stadium and the walking trail. Our room featured an electric fireplace and a view of the courtyard. The staff was friendly and helpful. We especially enjoyed talking to some of them who were ONU students.

Ada's location along the historic Lincoln Highway also makes it a great base from which to explore the path of America's first trans-continental highway through western Ohio.

For more getaways, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org


*This blog has been updated for 2021

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