The Columbus Owls started in the 1973-74 season in the IHL, changing their name from the Columbus Golden Seals, as their pro affiliation changed from the Golden Seals to the Blues and their ownership changed as well. The Owls were one of the toughest teams in the IHL, leading the league in penalty minutes their first season. They would make the playoffs in 3 of their 4 years in the IHL, but were mostly forced to play those games on the road or in Troy, Ohio, as the Fairgrounds was booked for other events.
For the 1977-78 season, the Owls moved to Dayton's Hara Arena as their attendance in Columbus was not great and management wanted to get an arena that could host the team come playoff time. The Dayton Owls took over Dayton from the Dayton Gems, who had folded over the summer. But the Owls had the same attendance issues that the Gems did, and after only 20 games they picked up and moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the team became the Grand Rapids Owls.
Despite all that, the Owls would make it to the IHL finals in the 1978-79 season. They bowed out to the Kalamazoo Wings in seven games. After a poor showing the following season, the Owls went out of business in 1980.