U.S. Grant football coach Dan Burgess was asked jokingly — at least somewhat jokingly — by a fellow coach when Oklahoma City was going to bulldoze C.B. Speegle Stadium.
The question might not have been entirely serious, but the answer is: May.
Speegle and Taft Stadium, two of the city's most historic stadiums, have become run down over the last decade or more. The current administration at Oklahoma City Public Schools, led by athletic director Keith Sinor, has worked to clean them up in their current form.
But the time has come to rebuild, in the form of a $19 million project scheduled to begin in four months.
Each stadium includes some Works Progress Administration projects that will remain, but essentially, the stadiums will be flattened. The north bleachers and concession stand at Speegle will not come down, but everything else will be new.
Artificial turf on the fields, new tracks, bleachers, locker rooms — the works, thanks to a bond issue and other OKCPS funds.
Here's the catch: the 10-month project isn't scheduled for completion until early 2014, so five teams — Northwest Classen, U.S. Grant, Capitol Hill, Southeast and John Marshall — will be without home fields in the fall.
Work has been in progress on John Marshall's new stadium at its school site, but it is unknown if it will be available for the 2013 season.
So Sinor and the coaches at those schools are left to figure out the best way to play out their schedules without home stadiums.
The fields at Douglass and Star Spencer will be available at times, but each stadium hosts varsity teams already. If the John Marshall field is ready in time, that will help to alleviate the problem a little.
But either way, there's still work to be done to set the home schedules of those five teams.
“It's a work in progress,” Sinor said. “We're trying to work with our other stadium sites to put some games there, and we're working with other area schools to use their facilities.”
And if necessary, the teams might play some extra road games.
“We only have one road trip outside the metro area, to Lawton,” Burgess said. “So regardless of whether we're playing at a city school or at the opponent's place, it's not going to present any huge travel problems for us.”
“We have six games on the road anyway, so hopefully it isn't too difficult for us to work it out,” added Northwest Classen coach Lloyd Smith. “This might be problematic for one year, but for years to come, these kids are going to have a great facility to play in.”
That's the key.
This is one year of sacrifice for a pair of multi-million-dollar facilities that the city football, soccer and track teams will get to use for years.
“Right now, there's no track at any of the south Oklahoma City schools,” Burgess said. “But now we'll be able to hold track meets. Our soccer teams will have great fields to play on.
“When they get this done, people won't recognize these stadiums. They'll be on par with just about all the other stadiums around the city area.”
The work is a sign of the emphasis the district leaders are putting on improving the status of their athletic programs, and providing a better situation for their players.
“We've got people trying to create a positive environment,” Smith said. “Short-term, it might be difficult, but long-term, it's going to benefit all the schools and all the teams that have access to those fields.
“It may be a while coming, but you've got to give something to get something.”