No one knows exactly when Oklahoma will compete in the Southeastern Conference, but when that day comes, the Oklahoma football team hopes to have another new facility in its arsenal.
The university has begun the process of selecting an architect for a new $175 million football operations facility to be located just off the northeast corner of Lindsey Street and Jenkins Avenue.
Jeffrey Schmitt, Associate Vice President of Architectural and Engineering Services, kicked off the process in an Aug. 22 letter to undisclosed project candidates. AllSooners obtained a copy of the letter Schmitt sent to the architectural firms.
“The project is anticipated to develop new, state-of-the-art facilities for functions consistent with those required to support the training, practice, preparation and performance of Oklahoma Football,” Schmitt wrote in the letter. “The project will also address the existing sports facility currently operating in the adjacent location, initially conceptualized to be east of the (Oklahoma Memorial) stadium.
“Financing will come from donations from university capital and other private sources.”
The project is not part of the school’s $300 million budget for the stadium master plan, which was adjusted and approved by the OU Board of Regents In May.
It also won’t affect ongoing facility projects for basketball, softball or baseball, a source told AllSooners.
Former Sooner offensive lineman gabe ikardThe co-host of a hit podcast and SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s “Big 12 Today” show, posted a series of tweets Wednesday about the pending project.
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Ikard said the Barry Switzer Center, the football team’s newest facility where players and coaches currently meet, train, enjoy locker rooms or offices and have access to world-class athletic training and nutrition resources, could be repurposed. as a “Successful Student-Athlete”. Center” for all OU student-athletes. The Switzer Center has been renovated or relocated three times since 2000, with the most recent overhaul completed in 2019, at a price of $160 million, as part of the closure of the stadium’s south end zone.
That south end zone project was originally approved at a cost of $370 million.
A March 2021 report from 247 Sports ranked the Switzer Center the 10th-best facility in all of college footballwhich has “one of the most futuristic platforms in the country with an environment second to none in the big 12”.
But now that OU is moving to the SEC, the official target date is the 2025-26 school year, but that seems flexible until 2024 or even 2023, being the best in the Big 12 is no longer enough.
Five of the nine schools ranked ahead of Oklahoma on that list are from the SEC or, in Texas’ case, headed there: Texas, LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Alabama. The list was published before the recent improvements in Georgia.
As the project is in the early stages of planning and exploration, it is unclear what purpose the Everest Training Center could serve with a new sprawling complex. Completed in 2002 at an efficient cost of $9 million, it could be incorporated into new facilities, reused for other sports, or simply torn down.
Also, it seems likely that OU’s John Jacobs Track is headed for a relocation, with that real estate earmarked for football. Several surface parking lots in that immediate vicinity on the east side of Jenkins could also be in jeopardy as the area undergoes an extreme makeover.
In May, OU detailed some of its future plans for spending on sports facilities.
“OU’s plan includes a variety of efforts, some of which, including athletics projects, have been on the docket for many years,” the school said in a statement. “Like every year, this year’s plan reflects the university’s long-term planning and project costs adjusted for inflation.”