Sooner4OU Commentary: Now that the Headington Hall dorm project is nearly completed, does this mean the University of Oklahoma will now look at expanding Memorial Stadium. There are rumors circulating about expansion and there has been enough speculation that both Joe Castiglione and Bob Stoops have both commented on it. In early 2007, Joe Castiglione said during a radio interview that a new stadium master plan was in development that included expanding the south endzone and the press box, but no other detail was given. Stoops has joked about naming a new press box after him, obviously a pun in regards to his testy relations with the press.
If they do decide on expansion, would it include renovating and expanding the press box, potentially the full length of the west upper deck or expanding the south endzone or possibly adding an upper deck in the north end zone? These are the many questions that the Sooner faithful are asking and the speculation has begun.
Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium has a rich history of tradition and success that started when the first game was played there on Oct. 20,1923. The field inside the stadium is named Owen Field after Bennie Owen, the head coach at the time, who helped raise the money for the first stadium and later became a charter member of the National Football Hall of Fame. Official capacity for Memorial Stadium is set at 82,112, with record attendance of 86,031, set during the 2012 home game played against Notre Dame. We attended that game and it was overflow with one of the best atmosphere in recent memory, although a win would have made it better.
The most recent major Memorial Stadium expansion project was completed in 2003, it added 27 suites and 8,000 seats on the east side of the stadium. The 2003 project also included some additional stadium remodeling to the Santee Lounge, concessions, restrooms and more, beyond expansion.
A lot of the speculation centers on the expansion possibilities and it seems the sky is the limit. How about an upper deck in the north end zone potentially adding between 7,000 and 9,000 seats? Would closing off the ends of the stadium and making a horseshoe, be a real possibility? This horseshoeing of the endzones has been hotly debated and a strong source of speculation for some time. Will OU be compelled to start pushing for expansion now that Texas and Texas A&M are increasing their seating capacities. Could expansion take seating capacity to over 90,000? How much funding would it take? The questions and possibilities could go on forever.
Whatever road the University of Oklahoma decides to take, it is something the Sooner Nation will follow closely as many see a university’s stadium as a source of great pride and tradition. So, it is crucial that whatever expansion or renovation that is done in a first-class manner, so it maintains and enhances Memorial Stadium’s reputation as one of the finest venues in all of college football.
Photo by: reataman73