The great facilities race
For decades Oklahoma's football program has been a bright beacon that attracted the attention of rival programs trying to reach the same level, but in recent years other Big 12 programs have been updating their facilities at a rapid clip, leaving OU to play catch up even though the Sooners have still been very competitive on the field.
Recently Athletic Director Joe Castiglione talked about Big 12 conference rivals that were updating and improving their facilities, mentioning Oklahoma State's massive stadium expansion at Boone Pickens Stadium and recent addition of a large indoor practice complex, TCU's newly-renovated stadium and most impressive on the list being Baylor's new state-of-the-art stadium that will seat 45,000 and feature fan amenities not found at even the newest NFL stadiums.
While there is little doubt that OU's Gaylord Family Stadium remains a first-rate facility, Castiglione, OU President David Boren and Coach Bob Stoops all have said that good isn't good enough when it comes to Sooner football.
That's why the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents agreed and voted unanimously Wednesday to proceed with a $370-million project that will bring the OU facility back among the very best facilities in the conference and the entire country. Castiglione told the regents that the school would be raising $150 million from private donations, with the rest financed by selling bonds which will allow the project to proceed immediately after the 2015 season.
He also emphasized that no state-appropriated funds and no funds from student tuition will be used. Castiglione also shared with regents that preliminary contacts with past donors have been very positive and he and Boren felt confident that the timing for the project is right.
The project is a must when you consider what other schools are doing, including some obscure programs outside of the Big 12. Thanks to Phil Knight's vast fortune Oregon's once-pitiful stadium is now among the best in all of NCAA Division I with facilities for the athletes that are as technologically advanced as anything seen at other NCAA schools.