By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — There were no agenda items pertaining to Owen Field at the University of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents meeting at Oklahoma Memorial Union on Thursday. However, that is likely to change when the group reconvenes next month.
“I think people can begin to get excited about potential changes to the stadium in the future,” OU President David Boren told The Transcript.
OU has not announced what alterations are coming or when they are expected to begin, but Boren shed light on what’s in store for the Sooners’ stadium.
For one, he was adamant that calling OU’s plan an expansion would be wrong. Boren doesn’t envision the stadium’s seating capacity to grow much beyond its current total of 82,112.
“I think it would be very foolish of us to make a huge expansion and try to bring our capacity to 110,000 or something like that,” he said. “We’re not seeking to build that kind of thing.”
Owen Field is currently the 17th largest stadium in the country and trails only Texas’ Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium in the Big 12.
OU has sold out every home game since the 1999 season, and it’s a string Boren doesn’t want to put in jeopardy. The vision is to create a more fan-friendly stadium with a greater variety of seating options.
Boren said the creation of new suites on the west side upper deck, along with a new press box, are in the works. More chair-back seating is planned, as well, but the biggest goal is building more amenities for fans.
Making seats more comfortable and constructing easier ways for them to maneuver around the stadium will be the upgrade’s intention.
“We’re looking to make a much more comfortable place to come and a much more accessible place for our fans with concessions and restrooms and all those things,” Boren said. “It’s a matter of upgrading the quality of the stadium, rather than increasing the capacity.”
The structure, which already dominates the east side of campus, is expected to grow in size.
The plan is expected to include bowling in the south end zone, which will fully enclose the stadium for the first time. Upgrading some of the football program's facilities also are planned.
Boren said students can expect the stadium to become even more ingrained to the campus.
“There is a department or two and the university that might need additional space, so we’re looking at moving them into the stadium,” he said. “We’re looking at new areas being built, so, we’re looking at that.”
As far as a price tag for the changes, there isn’t one in place yet. Boren said all of it will be paid for with athletic department revenue and private donations.
“There will not be any tuition and fee money or state money used for the project,” he said. “It will all be self-sustaining from the athletic department.”
It also will require a green light from the Board of Regents. Boren believes there will be a plan to present when the group reconvenes next month in Ardmore.
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