Univ. of Oklahoma Regents Approve $370M In Upgrades For Memorial Stadium
The Univ. of Oklahoma Board of Regents yesterday "approved the massive stadium upgrade plan" for Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, which includes a "new south end zone complex that will fill in the open corners, creating a full bowl, and substantial additions to team facilities below the south stands," according to Jason Kersey of the OKLAHOMAN. Those facilities will include a "new weight room, equipment room, new team areas, coaches’ offices and the relocation of the athletic offices that are currently housed in the north end zone." Other projects include "demolishing the current press box and constructing a new one, expanded fan concourses and new fan plazas, as well as 43 additional restrooms -- the stadium currently has seven -- 69 new concession stands, guest services and team stores." The "huge amount of money needed to complete these projects" -- totaling $370M -- "will come entirely from private fundraising, revenue bonds and other athletics department funds." OU President Dave Boren made that fact "painstakingly clear only two days after the board approved" a nearly 5% increase in tuition. OU AD Joe Castiglione said that the plan was "drawn up to give his department flexibility with its implementation." If forced to "incrementally implement the plan," Castiglione said that OU would "first tackle the south end zone renovation, then the press box and then make smaller changes to the north and east sides of the stadium." Boren said that he hoped the south end zone "would be completed by the start" of the the '16 season (OKLAHOMAN, 6/26). Castiglione said that the upgrades will "not greatly increase the venue’s capacity." It currently holds 82,112, but has "seated crowds of more than 86,000 in the past." Meanwhile, Boren said that the goal is to raise at least $150M "before any construction begins." In Oklahoma, John Shinn notes yesterday's announcement "served as the public kickoff for the fundraising," but privately, OU "has been doing it for months." One of the ways OU will "raise money is with more seating options," as the renovations to the south end zone and west side will "add lots of club seats and luxury seats" (NORMAN TRANSCRIPT, 6/26).