NW Ohio plays a big part in The Big Game

The Wilson Sporting Goods plant in Ada makes all the footballs used in the National Football League
The Hardin County plant is making more than 200 footballs for the Super Bowl
The Hardin County plant is making more than 200 footballs for the Super Bowl(WTVG)
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 5:57 PM CST
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ADA, Ohio (WTVG) - It’s one of the biggest spectacles in all of sports and something from northwest Ohio always plays a big part in for the big game. All of the footballs used in the NFL are made in Hardin County and that includes those that will be in play in Arizona for the Super Bowl. Every football used on an NFL playing field comes from the Wilson Sporting Goods plant in Ada.

Andy Wentling is the plant manager. He’s an engineer by trade who worked in the automotive industry for decades before coming to Wilson.

“We’re the largest leather football manufacturer in the world,” Wentling said.

In addition to the NFL, the plant also makes footballs for midget, youth, high school and college teams as well as professional leagues all over the world.

“We have a great environment we make a toy for a game people pay to watch, how tough is that?”

A lot of work goes into making the perfect football. It starts with cutting the leather and then stamping it. From there, it’s on to the sewing process. Finally, the footballs are laced and then molded. It’s an art form that includes science and craftsmanship.

“There isn’t one robot here. It’s all done by people. We’ve been in Ada since 1955. We have people with 44 years of work experience here.”

The balls for the Super Bowl were finished Monday and have already been shipped out. They’re made in advance, and then once the teams are decided, workers come in and stamp the names on the balls.

“Each team gets 108 balls. 54 for practice and 54 for the game. They will go through them all and determine which ones will be used in the game by the quarterbacks. There are also 12 K-Balls for each team, so we make a total of 228 footballs for the Super Bowl.”

The NFL footballs made here are loaded with special technology. There is a sensor in each one that measures all kinds of stats.

“We can track all kinds of data with the sensor like snap to catch, how quick it goes to the receiver. Did they catch or drop it, all the data that is shared and tracked.”

So when you watch the big game, you’ll know that our corner of the world has a big part in it.

Every year the plant makes hundreds of thousands of footballs for all levels of play. Employees also do final testing work on basketballs for the NBA, WNBA and the G-league. If you’d like to see the work in person, the plan is to begin offering plant tours again this spring.

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