On November 6, 2000 Timothy Bomhoff wrote: Oklahoma Memorial Stadium at Owen Field opened in 1923. It is named after Bennie Owen, OU's first successful coach. The Sooners have made memories in the stadium such as Keith Jackson's 88 yard touchdown vs Nebraska. Outside of the stadium is the Barry Switzer Center, where there are pictures and historical facts about OU. It is a very impressive facility. The Sooner Schooner runs the field after each OU score. Boomer Sooner!
Historic Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, one of the most aesthetically pleasing and functional
campus football homes in the nation, is the home of Sooner Football. Situated on the east side of the Norman campus, this tradition-rich facility is the largest sports arena in the state and one of the largest college football stadiums in the nation. In the latest edition of the NCAA Records Book, Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is listed as the 19th largest football stadium
used by a Division I school.
In 1921, University of Oklahoma students started a movement for construction of a student union. By 1925, the idea had grown to include a combined football stadium/union. In the original architect’s drawings, the north end of the proposed structure was strikingly similar to the present Oklahoma Memorial Union, which eventually was constructed separately after head coach Bennie Owen suggested it would be best to raise funds for a union and a stadium.
The very first game actually played at the stadium site was on October 20, 1923, before the stadium/union plan ever got under way. The field was later named Owen Field after Owen, who coached the Sooners from 1905-26 and became a charter member of the National Football Hall of Fame. In 1925, the first contest was played in from of the new stands on the west side of the field. The 16,000-seat stadium cost approximately $293,000 and was named Oklahoma Memorial Stadium to honor University-associated persons who died in World War I.
Stands on the east side of the stadium were added in time for the 1929 season. This addition increased the seating capacity to 32,000. For the next 20 years, the stadium stayed in its original form. Then in 1949, OU President George L. Cross pushed for expansion and the result was a six-foot lowering of the old playing surface and the elimination of a running track that had surrounded the playing area. This move produced 7,000 new ringside seats and brought capacity to 55,000. The north end of the stadium was also enclosed in 1957, green grandstand bleachers were added to the south end of the enabling the stadium to hold 61, 826 fans.
The next expansion came 18 years later with addition of the upper deck and a new press box. At a cost of $5,726,345 – or about $680 per seat – an additional 8,436 seats were added. The capacity figure for the 1975 National Championship season was 71,187. The last renovation involving seating drastically improved the stadium’s appearance. In time for the 1980 season, the green old bleachers were benched in favor of a new south end zone facility. In addition to improved seating, the complex includes coaches’ offices, the weight room, meeting rooms, a training room with a walk-in whirlpool, the equipment room and two locker rooms. This addition brought the capacity of the stadium to 75,004.
In July of 1970 the original natural grass surface was removed and artificial turf was installed. That tartan turf was replace with super turf before the 1981 season. Owen Field returned to all natural for 1994 with the addition of the new prescription turf.
The Stadium Master Plan was approved by the OU Board of Regents in June 1994. It includes upgrading office space, locker room, training room and academic support facilities while adding new seats, skyboxes, scoreboards and a sound system. Construction of nine skysuites on the west side of the stadium began in April 1995 and they were used for the first time in September 1995.
OU Regents OK stadium name change
by Justin Noel Shimko - Daily Staff Writer
September 12, 2002
The OU Board of Regents honored the Gaylord family by renaming Oklahoma Memorial Stadium the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium at its meeting Wednesday at the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.
The new name will appear when the clock tower on the north side of the stadium is completed. OU President David L. Boren said the change was a way to honor Edward L. Gaylord and his family for the more than $50 million they have donated to OU.
Before the name change could be presented, however, the Gaylord family made some requests about the stadium. They did not want to have any commercial enterprises be a part of the name, such as Gaylord Entertainment Stadium. The name Owen Field, the playing field, could not be altered, nor could Oklahoma Memorial Stadium be removed from the new name.
The last request the Gaylord family made was to use part of their $12 million donation to build a monument to all OU students, faculty and staff who have died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Boren said the donations the Gaylord family has made have gone almost unnoticed, as the family made many of the donations anonymously. He said the family stepped in when the city of Norman would not agree to a tax, like Stillwater did for OSU's Lewis Field.
Joe Castiglione, OU athletic director, said all the student athletes are grateful for the donation, and said he was grateful for the monument.
"We are very pleased that for the first time, there will be a monument on the grounds of Oklahoma Memorial Stadium that will carry the individual names of those being honored," Castiglione said.
"I cannot imagine another donor we could have had of this magnitude who would have had the same sensitivity," Boren said. "It shows that they're Oklahomans to the core by putting the state and the university first."
Alex Yaffe, UOSA president, said the new name is not to diminish tradition, but to thank the Gaylord family and add more tradition to the university.
"They have been a friend to higher education," Yaffe said. "There's no denying that."
OU is not the first university to alter a stadium's name. Nebraska and Texas added the names of former football coaches.
In 1921, University of Oklahoma students started a movement for construction of a student union. By 1925, the idea had grown to include a combined football stadium/union. In the original architect's drawings, the north end of the proposed structure was strikingly similar to the present Oklahoma Memorial Union, which eventually was constructed separately after head coach Bennie Owen suggested it would be best to raise funds for a union and a stadium.
The very first game actually played at the stadium site was on October 20, 1923, before the stadium/union plan ever got under way. The field was later named Owen Field after Owen, who coached the Sooners from 1905-26 and became a charter member of the National Football Hall of Fame. In 1925, the first contest was played in front of the new stands on the west side of the field. The 16,000-seat stadium cost approximately $293,000 and was named Oklahoma Memorial Stadium to honor University-associated persons who died in World War I.
After several expansion and renovation efforts (see the following list), it currently ranks as the ??th largest on-campus stadium in the country.
The press box will be upgraded/expanded, according to a July 2003 radio interview with Athletic Director Joe Castiglione. Details are not available at this time.
East upper deck and suites, north scoreboard replaced with a Daktronics video board (scores, cheers, etc.), the south video screen and sound system are replaced, the McClendon Center for Intercollegiate Athletics (see following paragraph) is gutted and remodeled, north entry is remodeled, perimeter fence and ticket booths. Construction started after the 2001 season. The old south video board is broken down and used as scrolling update boards on the facades of the east and west upper decks.
The McClendon Center for Intercollegiate Athletics, which includes the Prentice Gautt Athletic Academic Center and Athletic Department offices for coaches, administrators and support staff provides OU the highest standard of excellence in serving student-athletes by contributing to their total university experience. Recent renovations include improvements and modernization to the study halls, classrooms and learning laboratories of the award-winning academic center.
Stadium is renamed to The Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The Gaylords gave $50 million dollars towards the expansion/renovation in exchange for the name change.
The windows on the north end of the stadium are replaced (part of the McClendon Center for Intercollegiate Athletics remodeling).
The 27-year-old north scoreboard is replaced with a steel frame that will eventually be covered with brick for the new clock and video scoreboard. A temporary scoreboard is attached for use during the 2002 season.
All existing seats are replaced with aluminum benches and hard plastic chairbacks. The alternating red/white pattern from section to section is maintained except in the nortwest and northeast corners and the west upper deck where red is used.
The white sections are now silver. These sections were previously an off-white/cream color.
Prior to the installation of the new seats, the concrete was covered with a gray, all-weather paint.
Red brick facade is added to the retaining wall around the field.
Two wheelchair-accessible ramps and seating areas are added to the lower part of the east stands (reduced capacity by approximately 2,012).
The Barry Switzer Center is opened in April.
The 22-year-old south scoreboard is replaced with a...
Permanent lights are added to the northwest, northeast, southwest, and southeast corners. The two poles on the south end are slightly shorter than the others.
Nine suites are added below the press box. Eight of the suites have a capacity of 12, and one can hold 24 (increased capacity by approximately 120, although some bench seats may have been removed during construction).
Grass (prescription turf) is installed.
Undesirable south end zone seats are removed (reduced capacity by 227).
Artificial turf is replaced with Super turf.
South end zone facility added (increased capacity by approximately 3,817). The complex includes coaches' offices, the weight room, meeting rooms, a training room with a walk-in whirlpool, the equipment room and two locker rooms.
The 'legs' of the free-standing south scoreboard are removed it is located at the top of the new south end zone seating. The speakers are moved to the top of the left and right columns of the press box (?).
The west upper deck, press box, and two new scoreboards ($322,300), are added at a total cost of $5,726,345 (increased capacity by approximately 9,361; 8,436 according to OU).
Original retaining wall is removed from the east and west stands, creating row 10A (increased capacity by approximately 500).
Artificial turf (Astro/Tartan Turf) is installed at a cost of approximately $250,000.
Permanent south end zone bleachers are added (increased capacity by approximately 6,179).
Running track is removed, and the field is lowered by six feet. This adds 10 rows to the east and west stands (approximately 7,500 seats). At the same time, the north end is enclosed (total capacity increased by approximately 23,647).
The south end was not enclosed because it was thought that it would interfere with the three north-south practice fields. Later on, the location of the baseball field may have deterred any expansion (left field line would have be shortened considerably).
East stands are built (62 rows, 16,000 seats). Cost of east and west stands is approximately $288,000 to $293,000.
West stands are built (62 rows, 16,000 seats).
East bleachers seat about 500.
Sources: University of Oklahoma and Sooner Stats
On August 23, 2003 David Shaw wrote: The capacity crowd that will assemble to watch the No. 1 Sooners open the 2003 season against North Texas on August 30 will likely be the largest ever to witness a sporting event in the state of Oklahoma.
The addition of some 8,000 seats, all on the east side, have taken the capacity of Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium to approximately 81,000. The $70 million first phase also added 27 sky suites. The largest sports venue in the state of Oklahoma got larger over the summer.
It's Football Time In Oklahoma!
Public address announcer Jim Miller will use that phrase to raise the curtain on game day in Norman. It's no idle welcome. With a capacity of approximately 81,000, Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
represents roughly 2.3% of Oklahoma's population.
Doesn't sound like much? Consider that of the 27 states that are inhabited by at least three million people, none can house a greater percentage of its population in a college football venue. In fact, with no population restriction, only five other college venues (Arkansas, Hawaii, Iowa, Nebraska and West Virginia) are capable of seating a larger percentage of their state's population.
Interestingly, of those five, only West Virginia and Iowa have more than one I-A school in the state and both have two. Oklahoma, of course, has three with Oklahoma State and Tulsa. On game day, Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium becomes Oklahoma's fifth-largest 'city' behind Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman and Lawton.
OU's Largest Home Crowds
The 10 largest crowds to watch Oklahoma play at home were mostly recorded in the early Eighties. Seating capacity was reduced later in the decade with the addition of sky suites on the west side and accommodation of ADA standards. The new east side upper deck has pushed seating capacity above 80,000.
If you're lucky enough to be among the capacity crowd expected for the 2003 season opener on August 30 -- be prepared to make history.
APPROVAL EXPECTED FOR OKLAHOMA UPGRADES
March 29, 2012
Copyright 2012 MediaVentures
Tulsa, Okla. - The University of Oklahoma's Board of Regents is expected to approve Phase VI
of the Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium Improvements that will include refurbishment of the eastside suites, the Santee Lounge and the Kerr McGee Stadium Club.
The Tulsa World said the regents are also expected to approve partial guaranteed maximum construction costs of $950,000. Funding for the project has been identified, is available and will come from general revenue bond proceeds.
Early construction efforts will begin this spring and be completed during the summer, although most of the work will start after the 2012 football season and is expected to be completed before the 2013 season begins.