Reginald Rutledge’s fingers are scraped and cut from logging some serious stadium hours. No, he’s not a professional football player–he makes stadiums. Miniature ones, that is.
Rutledge, a telecommunications engineer in Arlington, Texas, has been building miniature football stadiums, using foam, wood, and tiny pieces of metal, for over 25 years. He got hooked on the game the first time he watched football legend Johnny Unitas play. “I was 7 years old,” recalls Rutledge, 41. “He was my first childhood idol in sports.”
Thus began Rutledge’s lifelong love affair with the sport. He played for his high school team and, when he was off the field, played electronic football. Before long, he was building his own stadiums–from scratch.
He was 15 when he constructed a replica of Texas Stadium. Made from cardboard, it was a rough first effort. “To be honest, it was pretty ugly. But even at such a young stage I really had a vision that this was something I wanted to pursue.” Nine years later, when he completed a detailed Los Angeles Coliseum by melding foam with cardboard, “I knew I had something special,” he says.
Rutledge has created over 1,000 arenas, including Ericsson, Joe Robbie, and Pro Player Stadiums, which sell for as much as $10,000. Product enthusiasts and clients include the NFL Players Association, the NCAA, as well as private collectors. Even Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey owns one.
Though he hung up his cleats a long time ago, his love for the game is stronger than ever. He owns a collectibles business that sells figurines, plaques, and statistical software.
These days his favorite teams are the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys. He also roots for the NCAA’s Tennessee Volunteers. His prediction for the Super Bowl crown? “I think Donavan McNabb and the Eagles are going to take it all.”
Visit his Website at www.footballfigures.com or call 817-451-4836.
BE RESOURCEFUL: Rutledge spends roughly $100 for materials because he constructs everything from foam, wood, and metals. But you can also purchase model-building kits that cost hundreds of dollars. A good reference is Building Architectural Models (Schiffer Publishing, $14.95) by Guy DeMarco and Patricia DeMarco. The book gives professional insight into designing and producing three-dimensional architectural creations.
BE PATIENT: Stadium building takes Rutledge from four weeks to two years per stadium, depending on the degree of difficulty. His most intricate models include the Ericson and Raymond James stadiums which feature stadium stores along the endzone, 15,000 miniature figurines, field seats, lights, and scoreboards.