An International League mainstay, the Columbus Clippers have prepped future stars for the big leagues since 1977. The team has claimed nine league championships over the years, most recently in 2011. The Clippers have served as the Triple-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians since 2009, helping players hone the skills that they need to succeed in the majors and impress friends during the pi?ata portion of birthday parties.
Up to 10,100 Clippers fans pack into Huntington Park, which still gleams with a new-stadium sparkle after sprouting up in 2009. During that inaugural season, the facility was named Ballpark of the Year by multiple sources, including BaseballParks.com and Digitalballparks.com, whose writers referred to the stadium's design as "the most exciting we've seen in two decades."
Now in its 23rd year, the I-X Indoor Amusement Park returns to the International Exposition Center with more than 20 acres of rides, games, and attractions. The indoor wonderland opens its doors from late March to early April on select dates, giving Cleveland families a springtime window to zip around on more than 30 thrill rides or read poetry to farm animals at a petting zoo. The newly added Cirque Shanghai dazzles eyes with a mammoth spectacle of daring acrobatics and motorcycle daredevilry, while daily Big Cat shows showcase the abilities of rescued tigers from a Sarasota, Florida, animal sanctuary. A collection of carnival fare, such as corn dogs, cotton candy, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and deep-fried baseball caps, rounds out the summer-like atmosphere.
With 10 national championships to their name and another 76 conference titles to boot, the Cincinnati Bearcats boast more than century of athletic tradition. Though the student athletes thrive in many different sports, the basketball program?which won back-to-back NCAA Championships in 1961 and 1962?is the school's crown jewel. Before embarking on a professional career that earned him a spot among the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History, The Big O cut his hard-court skills for the Bearcats, averaging a staggering 33.8 points per game in his three years at UC. In more recent years, the Bearcats football team has enjoyed its own run as a true contender, earning bowl berths in 2009, 2011, and 2012. In both 2011 and 2012, the squad pounced on their postseason opponents, taking home glittering trophies to use as tackling dummies in training camp.
Formerly the Lingerie Football League, the Legends Football League stands as the "fastest-growing pro sports league in the nation" according to NBC Sports correspondent Rick Chandler. That success owes much to the league's unique format, which pits two exclusively female teams in alluring uniforms against each other in full-contact football games on a 50-yard field. Donning football pads and helmets over their revealing performance wear, the female athletes block, juke, and sprint uninhibited by such frivolous gear as the NFL's heavy chainmail hauberks.
The seasoned performers of Piccadilly Circus dazzle audiences of all ages with 90 minutes of acrobatics, comedic high jinks, and trained animals beneath the big top. Audiences gasp at high-flying trapeze artists swooping through the air with the confidence of a kite in a wind tunnel, as well as contortionists able to bend themselves into human bonsai trees. Death-defying motorcyclists roar into a caged globe to perform a 360-degree display of vehicular mastery. Gaggles of clowns coax out chuckles, and a trained elephant parades around the ring, occasionally stopping to memorize an audience member's phone number. General-admission seating surrounds the ring, allowing ample viewpoints from which to observe the boisterous spectacle.
The NBA Development League affiliate of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Canton Charge regale hoops fans with basketball savvy from a roster stacked with talent looking to play their way into the NBA. Donning the same yellow-and-red color scheme of their affiliate squad, the Charge compete in the East Division of the NBA D-League. The team plays in the Canton Civic Center, where sounds of cheering fans and squeaking shoes echo off of rafters and occasionally create a high-pitched rhythm that the Charge Girls, the team's dance squad, can groove to.