PLANO, Texas — Many University of Oklahoma supporters gathered inside the Gleneagles Country Club started asking Joe Castiglione about football stadium upgrades before Tuesday’s Sooner Caravan event even began.
The OU athletic director addressed those questions very lightly during his remarks, saying he didn’t have anything significant to announce regarding facilities.
“We’re on the threshold of making that announcement here soon,” Castiglione said. “As you know, last fall we announced those plans were underway, and we’ve taken six-to-eight months or so for it to develop.
“I’m really excited about what’s transpired since then. It’s been a great project; a great experience. It’s comprehensive in nature.”
The athletic department began a feasibility assessment for football stadium improvements in October, with Populous, a Kansas City, Mo.-based architecture firm, being designated to review and upgrade the stadium’s “Master Plan.”
A local television report earlier this month said a massive plan for stadium upgrades and expansion had already been “approved” and could be ready as soon as the fall of 2015, but multiple sources have since told The Oklahoman that plans are still being developed.
New stadium suites, a new weight room and a new press box and enhanced fan amenities are top priorities for the project, which could include the bowling off of the South end zone.
Sources said last week that stadium upgrades still haven’t been through a competitive bidding process, and no items on the agenda of last Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting were about football stadium renovations.
After the meeting, though, OU president David Boren told The Norman Transcript that a plan could be presented to the regents at next month’s meeting in Ardmore.
“I think people can begin to get excited about potential changes to the stadium in the future,” Boren told the Transcript.
The future stadium upgrades will be the first major work to the football stadium in about a decade. When the east upper deck and suites were added in 2003 and 2004, stadium capacity increased by nearly 10,000.
“There are two goals that we set out to try and attain through this process,” Castiglione said Tuesday. “One is to create world-class resources for our world-class student-athlete experience, and second was to create the experience that is second-to-none in the country.
“We are on our way to making that happen. We’ll announce that here very, very soon.”
Addressing boosters and OU supporters Tuesday night, Castiglione touted the athletic department’s recent on-field success and financial stability as proof that “we’re being good stewards of the support you give our university.”
The OU athletic department is one of only seven nationally that was profitable without relying on student fees or other subsidies.
“We don’t receive state appropriations,” Castiglione said. “We don’t receive tax dollars. We don’t receive financial support from the university, nor do we have any student fees that go to the support of intercollegiate athletics.
“Why that’s important is because your university program is making it on its own.”