The Norman Transcript

June 27, 2014

OU scores again at Owen Field


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — It’s wrong to call what’s happening in college football a “facility war.” In wars, decisive blows can be made and the struggle eventually ends.

There’s no climax in sight when it comes to college football powers erecting the best amenities for players. The failure to constantly build means falling behind in the race.

Oklahoma made major strides in that area the last five years. New locker rooms, a hydrotherapy area and massive team meeting room were added to the Switzer Center in 2009.

The opening of Headington Hall — the state-of-the-art dormitory that opened last August — was a game changer.

However, the $370 million in renovations to Owen Field and the Switzer Center approved by the schools’ regents on Wednesday put the Sooners on another plain in terms of facilities.

“This plan really meets every possible need we could need as a football team and all our athletic teams, it really is a great, great improvement in our meeting facilities, nutrition areas, workout facilities, on and on,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “It’s really, absolutely everything we could possibly want or need.”

The wish list, however, is constantly updating.

The Sooners made a massive facility push a decade ago. Once OU won the 2000 national championship, the Everest Indoor Center and Switzer Center quickly followed. One of the revenue streams that helped pay for them was the 8,000-seat expansion and the addition of more 30 luxury suites and club level.

Premium seats greatly aid in generating the revenue that fuels the facility battle. OU will add many more to the south end zone and the west side.

Those are the upgrades that are in plain sight. It’s the new weight room and training center OU believes will make the program impossible for targeted recruits to resist.

“We know what other universities are doing around the country; we’re trying to recognize. This is a generational project for us,” OU athletic director Joe Castiglione said. “We’re not just building this for the next two-to-five years; this is something we’re projecting out. So anything that relates to state-of-the-art, whether it’s right here now or coming into the year what we can anticipate in years to come, we can accommodate it.”

The constant need for upgrades will not cease even if OU’s able to refurbish its football palace in time for the 2016 season.

Just look around the Big 12. Since 2006, here’s what OU’s conference rivals have pumped into stadiums and football facilities since 2006:

· Baylor: $260 million for McLane Stadium, opening in August.

· Iowa State: $60 million for expansion to Jack Trice Stadium to be ready for the 2015 season.

· Kansas State: $90 million to renovate the west side of Snyder Family Stadium.

· Oklahoma State: $269 million for Boone Pickens Stadium, new locker rooms and training facilities.

· TCU: $164 million facelift to Amon Carter Stadium

· Texas $179 million pumped into Royal Memorial Stadium and football facilities.

· Texas Tech $100 million in renovations to AT T Jones Stadium and football facilities

Only Kansas and West Virginia have not done major work to their stadiums over that period.

The Sooners believe theirs will surpass them all. It likely will. The computer generated renderings were jaw-dropping. Owen Field looked completely modern while maintaining its historic feel.

The new weight room and training facility — nearly four times larger than OU’s current one — was state of the art in every sense. It looked like it had everything an athlete could want.

“You have the space also to train. There’s a positive in training 10, 12 guys at one time that it’s all hands-on, but now when you are squeezed for time, you can train 30 or 40 guys at the same time. There’s a lot of advantage in it,” Stoops said.

The plans unveiled on Wednesday will give OU a chance to have everything it wants: a modernized, luxurious stadium for fans; revenue generating stadium for the program; unsurpassed facilities for the athletes.

However, maintaining status as a major power is a lot like being a shark. Stop swimming and die. In college football, it’s keep building or get buried.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

jshinn@normantranscript.com

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