You can't blame Phillips for not seeing the future. It would take quite the visionary to see all that's happened since.
Boone and Mike Gundy and Brandon Weeden. The Fall of the House of Sutton. The NBA in Oklahoma, much less a zenith like the Thunder. No one saw any of that coming, much less all of it.
But the idea that OSU could sustain 13,000-plus seats post-Sutton? That was a legit concern for anyone paying attention. Getting 3,000 people to drive from Oklahoma City and Tulsa on a winter Wednesday night is one thing. Getting 8,000 to make that drive is quite another.
“All you have to do is come to the arena and look around,” Holder said. “It's challenging.
“That being said, there's really no option here than to fill it up. That's the standard that's been set when we opened the arena.
“Plenty of blame to go around, I'll take my share of it. The status quo is not acceptable. We're going to do everything we can to reverse the trend.”
The students are the first priority. In the previous Gallagher, students received approximately 1,700 tickets per game and a student season ticket was good for only half the games. Students had to alternate.
In the new Gallagher, 2,500 students have bought season tickets, but Holder said 600 haven't even picked up their tickets yet, and it's late January.
Do the math. More students are buying tickets now than in the old days. But in an arena more than twice the size, you never would know it.
“Within 1,000 or 2,000 or 3,000 yards of our arena is our most important constituency,” Holder said. “That's not only our present, that's our future. If we don't capture 'em while they're here on campus, we've probably lost them for good.
“They bring the atmosphere. They make it a lot more exciting for everyone, especially for guys my age. We don't bring a lot of energy into the game. We may think we do, but we don't.”
And thus OSU games are but a shell of what they once were, even though often just as many people are going to games as in the 1990s. The new Gallagher-Iba is beautiful. But OSU would be better off with the old Gallagher-Iba.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.