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OKC school district leaders work to improve Taft, Speegle stadiums without destroying historical elements

Oklahoma City's Taft and Speegle stadiums have hosted many legendary events over the years, even beyond high school football. Pro football, pro soccer, college football and auto racing all took place at Taft.
by Scott Wright Modified: September 3, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: September 3, 2013

When he looks at C.B. Speegle Stadium, Keith Sinor doesn't just see a football field that he — as the athletic director of the Oklahoma City Public Schools — is responsible for keeping in adequate condition.

He sees his old home. The field he once played on. The locker room that he walked into every day after practice.

Sinor grew up as a student-athlete at Capitol Hill High School. He knows the history of Speegle Stadium on Oklahoma City's south side and Taft Stadium to the north.

Over the last three decades, the history of the stadiums has stood strong, but the structures themselves have not.

Sinor, entering his third school year as the athletic director at the school district, has headed a $19 million project to renovate Taft and Speegle, stadiums that once served as cathedrals of high school football in Oklahoma City but have long since reached a state of disrepair.

Wednesday morning, district officials held a groundbreaking ceremony at Taft, which has been almost entirely flattened over the last few weeks, as work begins to rebuild the historic stadium. A similar ceremony is planned for Speegle in early September as the 10-month project moves past the demolition phase and into rebuilding mode.

Working with a local firm, MA+ Architectural, Sinor and the district's leadership put together a plan that would give the district's students athletic facilities comparable with those in the suburban areas, while maintaining the historical elements that are woven into the city's past.

“The first question I got every time we appeared at a public meeting was, ‘What are you doing with the Taft Wall?'” said Gary Armbruster, the principal architect for MA+.

The Taft Wall is the stadium's eastern facade, facing toward May Avenue. It's a large rock and brick wall with “Taft” written in a unique circular pattern above the ticket windows.

“To put everyone's mind at ease, we are repairing it, and making it look new, but it will remain,” Armbruster said. “Our firm also specializes in historic preservation projects, so from that aspect, this has been a lot of fun to research and see all of the events that have been held in these stadiums in the past.”

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