Framework Of Oklahoma State Stadium Takes Shape

Wednesday, July 18th 2007, 6:22 pm
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Where there once was only a giant crater at the west end of Oklahoma State's football stadium now stands the foundation for the program's engine of the future.

Three cranes tower over the west end zone, where staircased concrete curves from the corner of the south stands to the center of what had been a gap at that end of Boone Pickens Stadium. Steel framework emerges from the top of the southwest corner, giving observers an idea of where suites and football offices will one day stand.

For now, Oklahoma State's west end zone renovation remains under construction and the finished product exists only in drawings and the imagination of its creators. But the progress is noticeable.

Concrete has been poured to form the future home of bench seating for fans and house brand new facilities for the team _ including a larger locker room and weight room, coaches' offices, equipment storage, and hydrotherapy pools.

The only future occupant who'll get to move into the structure this season is Bullet, a black horse that serves as the university's mascot. A stall neighboring a field entrance awaits as a replacement to a trailer that temporarily housed Bullet on game days last year.

Everyone else will have to wait another year or more, as crews from Flintco Constructive Solutions and Sparks Sports continue working on the $120 million project. Over the course of the season, Flintco senior project manager Jim Heley expects more of the suite level framework to go up, as concrete for the seating area fills in from the north stands toward connecting with the existing half of the bowl.

A walkway will connect the north stands to the south stands, but the rest of the area will be fenced off on Cowboys game days.

Fans will be able to sit in the bowled-in section in the 2008 season, and the final completion is targeted for 2009. Heley said the project is on schedule, and would be ahead of pace if not for ice storms this winter and relentless rainfall over the past month.

The site changes on a daily basis. On a tour for reporters Wednesday, Heley discovered a four-foot wall blocking his path that hadn't been there a day earlier. He said workers will be on the job every day except game days to push toward completion.

Eventually, the team will have at its disposal a new 20,000-square-foot strength and conditioning area that dwarfs the existing weight room shared by all the school's athletic teams. The locker room, which will feature 120 nicely appointed lockers, will take up 14,000 square feet.

Each locker will have its user's name etched in a glass panel on the door to a cabinet big enough to hold a set of shoulder pads. Beneath that will be a clothes bar and another cabinet for personal items. A cushioned leather seat will sit on top of a drawer to store more equipment.

The lockers will be ventilated so the smell of sweaty equipment will be sent outside the stadium and not linger in the players' new digs.

Nearby, an auditorium big enough for 280 people is in the works with plans for theater-style stadium seating. Separate rooms will also be built for offensive and defensive meetings.

The basement is also equipped with a new loading dock area that will allow trucks to pull directly onto the field area, allowing for easier setup for concerts and other events in addition to football games.

And more building is yet to come. Heley said there's no time frame yet for the start of construction on a new, $50 million indoor practice facility planned across the street from the stadium.

Plans initially called for the two structures to be connected by an underground tunnel, but officials said that idea has been nixed, at least temporarily.

Other plans call for a new baseball stadium, tennis facilities, a soccer and track complex, an equestrian center and outdoor football practice fields as part of an athletic village that will cost the school more than $300 million.