He built Ohio State’s Horseshoe and Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium. He even designed Penn State’s Beaver Stadium and Michigan’s Big House.
But Matt Jenkins isn’t a master architect or an experienced designer. He’s a 29-year-old systems information analyst near Columbus, Ohio -- and it just so happens his creations are comprised of Legos and come in 5-by-5 inch bundles.
In other words, yes, this Ohio State grad enjoys making replica Big Ten stadiums out of Legos.
“Not having a lot of disposable income, I just figured I’d start tinkering with it when I put my daughter to bed,” said Jenkins, who lives about a 25-minute drive from The Horseshoe. “And, lo and behold, I’ve created a monster.”
Jenkins opened a custom shop on Etsy just last month, despite his wife’s belief that “it was kind of stupid.” But he’s already been surprised by the response. One Hawkeyes official inquired about purchasing up to 500 Lego Kinnick Stadiums, and he’s sold close to four dozen other stadiums at $50 apiece.
He makes all kinds of different sports stadiums – such as the Cleveland Browns' homefield and Notre Dame Stadium (complete with Lego Touchdown Jesus) -- but, as a Big Ten alum, his focus rests with the conference he knows best. He’s traveled to 13 of the 14 Big Ten stadiums, and he’s constructed five so far: Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Penn State.
Jenkins’ wife can blame his parents for this problem. Jenkins’ parents cleaned out their condo in February and brought his childhood Legos up to his Dublin, Ohio, home. In August, a bored Jenkins figured he’d tried to construct The Shoe from the old plastic blocks.
He enjoyed the challenge -- so he figured he’d try out other B1G stadiums. He’ll take several hours to create the stadiums on a computer program (usually consulting photos and his own memories), then he’ll source out the blocks on a specialty site. Once he receives the Legos, he can construct the 200- to 250-piece stadiums in about 15 minutes.
The tiny details are uncanny. Kinnick Stadium has its own water tower and mini-Nile Kinnick statue, Beaver Stadium boasts a players’ tunnel and its two new giant videoboards, and Ohio Stadium features a giant flag pole and light towers.
But there is one Big Ten stadium Jenkins doesn’t plan on building anytime soon. (Sorry, Rutgers fans.)
“Rutgers, they’re not ready for prime time -- or they’re not ready for a prime-time Lego mini-stadium in my eyes,” Jenkins said with a laugh. “And that’s for me to judge. ... I want to see more wins before I devote my precious time to them.”
In the meantime, the Ohio State fan is just hoping this side hobby helps provide for his 20-month-old daughter’s college fund. And, if there’s enough money for some Michigan State-Ohio State tickets, he wouldn’t mind those, either.