HCS Op-Ed: The History of Boone Pickens Stadium

Boone Pickens Stadium is one of only a few stadiums in college football to directionally run east/west as opposed to the traditional north/south. The original stadium, Lewis Field, was designed in 1910, south of its current location and faced north/south. In 1919 however, Oklahoma State University Board Members decided to move the field to its current location, and make it face east/west so to avoid the strong and prevailing winds of Oklahoma.

Boone Pickens Stadium is one of the oldest college football stadiums in existence. It is the oldest stadium in the Big 12 and the oldest stadium west of the Mississippi River. Although Boone Pickens Stadium has had renovations to its field, the field has never changed locations unlike most other college fields have.

The first addition to the stadium came in 1924 when steel and concrete was added to the south side of the stadium. In the spring of 1929, 8,000 permanent seats were added to the north side of Lewis Field to make the stadium capacity 13,000. Until 1947, there were only 20 rows of seating on the south side of the stadium. During that year, construction designers added an additional 23 rows on that side, thus adding stadium capacity to 30,000.

In 1948, the first permanent press box was added and prior to the 1950 season, more seats were added to the north side, thus making stadium capacity 39,000. In 1971, the stadium was lowered after the cinder track around the field was removed. As a result, 20 rows of seats were added on both sides of the field, increasing capacity to 51,000. When the field was lowered, the fans on the first few rows became right on top of the visitors’ bench and many coaches and players have talked about how this can influence games. The first artificial surface was added in the same year for 2.5 million dollars.

In 1980, the coaches offices were constructed in the east end zone inside Gallagher-Iba Arena and a new press box was added for 1.8 million dollars. Permanent lighting was added to the stadium in 1985 for 750,000 dollars. In 2003, Lewis Field was officially renamed Boone Pickens Stadium.

After the name change, a series of renovations to the stadium began. In 2004, the first one was complete, as suites and club seating were added to the south side of the stadium. In 2006, suites and club seating were added to the north side of the stadium. In 2008, seating opened in the west end zone, forming a bowl shape around the stadium. Capacity opened to 60,000. Finally, in 2009 the renovation was complete. West end zone suites and club seating were finished and final stadium capacity today is 60,218

As a long-time season ticket holder, I can say that the renovations were something that needed to take place. By adding the additional 9,000 seats and closing the west end zone, it is much louder inside the stadium. Ticket prices might be more expensive to help pay it off, but it will pay off Saturday when the Pokes beat Iowa State 51-24.

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