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June 27, 2014

Fighin' Words: Stadiums becoming toys of the wealthy?

CHICKASHA —

What an exciting time for OU football.

Aside from THAT win in January, there was also a top-notch recruiting class and an exciting future with Trevor Knight in the backfield. Then, there's the matter of Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium's "upgrade" as the Sooner communications team is calling it.

The changes look nice, with added seating at the south end along with fan pavilions. What's strange about this announcement is it pretty much sidestepped how this will affect the stadium's 82,112 capacity. 

In fact, the release seems to go out of its way to make this not about the number of seats. 

"The goal is not to expand the seating capacity, but to better meet the needs of fans and student-athletes," the release reads. That's all well and good but still begs the question: how many people can sit in it? 

Pete Moris, the head of OU football media relations, told me under the current plans, it is believed there will be little to no change to the number of seats.

As such, not enough is known about this upgrade to say the real reason behind it is anything other than to enhance the fan experience. But, let's not kid ourselves here; college football, especially the game day operation, is a business.

While this will be paid for with funding completely separate from the public dollars the university receives, it would not have been approved if it did not, in some way, benefit the people in charge. That's just how the world works.

This announcement does allow me to bring up a mildly alarming trend when it comes to sports stadiums at the moment. It started, more or less with the Dallas Cowboys' behemoth of a build in Arlington. The seating there was revolutionary, with luxury boxes both up top and at field level. Ticket prices, as a result, have gone way up.

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