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Volume 23 No. 18
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End zone premium selling fast for Sooners

An aerial shot of the stadium’s south end, which will be enclosed after the seating additions.
Things are booming in Soonerland: The University of Oklahoma is about 300 club seats away from selling every piece of new premium inventory tied to its south end zone expansion at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

The $160 million project, which is set to open for the coming season, encompasses 22 suites, 66 loge boxes and 1,810 club seats. The south end now fully connects to the east and west stands.

The expansion, designed by Populous, meets Sooner Nation’s demand for more premium options in the seating bowl, said Mike Behan, Legends’ vice president of sales.

The 20 suites available for purchase and the loge boxes, a new product for OU, are sold out. The new suites, combined with 54 existing suites on the east side and nine on the west side, bring the stadium’s total to 85. Two larger suites with 30 seats and standing room for 10 are reserved for single-game sales.

Legends is moving a few more club seats every day, about four months before OU’s Sept. 10 home opener against Louisiana-Monroe. A week after that comes a home clash with Ohio State.

The sales campaign began in October 2014. Legends, the same agency selling new premium seats at Notre Dame Stadium (see related story), has been working out of a 7,700-square-foot preview center on the edge of campus in Norman.

In conjunction with school officials, Legends has conducted more than 3,000 meetings with potential buyers at the preview center, starting with the Sooner Club, the school’s biggest donors. The process has since trickled down to general season-ticket holders who have been on a wait list for premium seats over the last six to 12 months, Behan said.

With only a few hundred club seats left to sell, the revenue streams tied to the expansion have met the target goal to pay off $117 million in bonds initially sold to underwrite construction costs, said Larry Naifeh, OU’s executive associate athletic director.

“We’re in a good spot,” Naifeh said.

Most of the suites come with 18 seats, start at $75,000 a year and are tied to three-, five-, seven- and 10-year terms. In addition, a one-time capital gift of $200,000 was required, a sum that can be paid over multiple years. Eighty percent of purchasers are new buyers, some of whom had club seats and kept them while buying a suite, school officials said.

The loge boxes come in groups of four, six, seven and eight seats. The cost of a four-seater is $16,000 a season, plus a $60,000 capital gift. For club seats, there is a $2,000 annual fee plus a capital gift of $5,000 a seat. Season tickets are a separate cost.

The cost of food and drink, excluding alcoholic beverages, is included in the club seat and loge box packages.

The south end zone project is part of a $370 million master plan for stadium improvements. Future upgrades include a 46,000-square-foot fan plaza and a major redevelopment of the Barry Switzer Center, home to training facilities and coaches’ offices in the south end zone. The plan will add about 50,000 square feet of athletes’ training space.