News broke earlier this May that Dean Blevins had confirmed that a new project for the expansion of the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium was in the works and would be approved and announced at a future Board of Regents meeting.
Plans were projected to be anywhere between $350-400 million. The project would see an expansion of the seating on the south end of the stadium, as well as upgrades to the training facilities and weight room, and updated suites and press box. The project is rumored to begin after the last home game against OSU on Dec. 6, 2014, with the grand opening hopefully taking place in time for the home opener against Akron the year following. The bowl being created in the south end zone should create anywhere from 8,000-10,000 more seats, and with the waiting list for season tickets growing each year, the OU Athletic Department can be sure to fill every single one up.
And yours truly got his hands on the Populous architectural renderings for the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium expansion project. Populous is responsible for such sports venues as Sun Life Stadium for the Miami Dolphins in 1987, which was the first venue to feature club seating, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which won the American Institute of Architects National Honor Awards for both urban design and architecture, just to name a couple. Their work is tremendous, and their list of achievements is honestly too long for this article.
I received a packet from a trusted source, who had access to the stadium expansion project, that contained four proposed exteriors for the south end expansion of the stadium. In each, the bowl on the south end is closed up, and an entrance to the stadium has been added that spills out into an oval driveway that connects to Lindsey Street. The new entrance and roundabout, let’s call it, effectively eats up some of the practice field located on the corner of Jenkins and Lindsey, but all of the architectural renderings feature two practice fields running north and south to the west of the new south entrance.
The bowl addition looks to be the same height as the north end, with the current south end zone section remaining essentially the same, rising up above the entrance. The four proposals were broken up into two basic groups: two renderings featuring water fountains in the south entrance, along with extensive brick and rock features, and two renderings without fountains, featuring exteriors made up mostly of windows.
Personally, I would like to see a bit of a marriage of the two ideas, incorporating the water features while also providing floor to ceiling glasswork.
The proposal that my source described as having the most potential to pass the upcoming vote featured the roundabout coming off of Lindsey Street, just before Jenkins, that winds a circle around a massive water fountain out front. On both sides of the south entrance, trees line the sidewalks as a natural barrier to the practice fields on the left, and the green space on the right. Moving north from the fountain is an outdoor entranceway much like the north entrance, with a big concrete gathering area, featuring another smaller water feature. The entrance itself is similar to the stone and brickwork currently on the stadium, and features large glass windows and doors. The bowl sections to the left and right appear to feature suites with large panes of glass and contain a similar amount of seating as the north end zone.
As of the writing of this article (late May) no word has been given on the specific plans to expand the stadium, and the resources used in this article have not been made available to the public. OU boasts one of the best home crowds in all of college football, and diehards are looking for ways to get season tickets. If this Populous deal goes through, they just might get their shot. Consider adding your name to the waiting list before the announcement becomes official!