The Ohio History Center is closed through March 8 as officials prepare for the "Ohio -- Champions of Sports" exhibit that will open March 16.

The display will cover 26 sports, 70 stories related to sports in Ohio and 56 oral histories, said Tom Wolf, spokesman for the Ohio History Connection, which oversees the facility at 800 E. 17th Ave. in Columbus.

"I'm not sure about why it's taken so long, but the premise is it's hard to tell the story about sports nationally without telling the story of Ohio," Wolf said.

However, the center's third-floor Archives and Library Research Room will remain open while the display is assembled, he said.

"Some of the logistics are more easily accommodated if the museum closes," Wolf said. "It's a big exhibit."

Eric Feingold, history curator for the Ohio History Connection, said the exhibit will cover the four "big" sports -- football, baseball, basketball and hockey -- but also some less common, such as roller derby, skateboarding and tennis.

Memorabilia from Bobby Rahal and Sarah Fisher, both Ohio natives, former race-car drivers and team owners, will be part of the exhibit, Feingold said.

E-gaming, celebrated for its innovation in sports, also will be represented, he said.

Squeezing Ohio's sports history into 6,800 square feet of space wasn't easy or entirely possible, Feingold said.

"I keep telling people I'm kind of bracing for the emails and calls from people saying, 'You didn't focus on this story or that story,' " he said. "That's the fun part of being curator because of the feedback you get from the public."

Nevertheless, it's shaping up to be a powerful show, which will run through September 2020.

"I hope it reinforces to the public that sports history is an important part of our history, our collective history," Feingold said.

Admission to "Ohio -- Champions of Sports" is included with Ohio History Center museum is $12, $10 for those 60 years old and older, $6 for those ages 4 to 12 and free for any Ohio History Connection members or children 3 and younger.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary