TULSA, Okla. — The west side of the Union Tuttle Stadium is getting ready to be demolished on Thursday to make way for a new structure.
“Pretty excited about what it’s going to do for our program, but also for the community and the people who come to see events here," said Kirk Fridrich, Union's head football coach.
The new $42 million stadium will include brand new bleachers and press box on the west side, along with a bigger press box and LED lights. Other additions include a new wrestling practice area, an expanded weight room and locker room.
The stadium was built in 1976 and first opened to fans in the fall of that year.
"We built the stadium with 11,000 seats and had 500 in the high school. Everybody said what are you doing," explained Gil Cloud, the former athletics director at Union in 1976.
He was there from start to finish, sharing countless memories.
"We sold season tickets, first time we ever had season tickets here. We probably had 300 or 400 season tickets in the middle. The students would always sit down in that end, the band would sit next to them," said Cloud.
He remembers being a pioneer in the Tulsa metro area when it came to the field.
"We were getting to the point where we had two seventh grade teams, two eighth grade teams, two ninth grade teams, and the grass would be gone by October," shared Cloud.
The board later voted to put turf on the field making Union the first public school in the Tulsa metro area to get turf.
"It’s a business decision. You can use the facility all the time whereas before if the dew was up, well the band couldn’t march because they would trample down the grass," said Cloud.
The stadium gave athletes a competitive edge in the state and became a state-of-the-arts facility in the 1970s. However, school officials say it's time for new improvements to better serve the students.
In addition to the west side demolition, renovations are also being made on the east side of the field, which include a new brick facade, redesigned concessions and new restroom facilities. A new fine arts facility will also be built on the north end zone of the football field for the marching band.
The new stadium is scheduled to be open by 2021 and the new fine arts facility by 2022.
In the meantime, the school has announced it will host three or four homegames next year during construction. Fans will be temporarily moved to the east and north bleachers.
The demolition will be begin at 10 a.m.
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