Brick by brick

“Taft Stadium is definitely an icon in Oklahoma City,” he says.

Armbruster, principal with MA+ Architecture, is handling the designs to bring Taft and Speegle stadiums into the 21st century. Both high school stadiums were built as New Deal projects in the 1930s and for decades have been the homes for Oklahoma City Public Schools sports teams.

The combined budget is more than $18 million with funds from a 2007 school bond issue.

“When you go into Taft and Speegle, they will look like totally new stadiums inside the walls,” Armbruster says. “But from the outside, you’ll see the old [Works Progress Administration] walls still there.”

The firm has worked on stadiums for Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School and Mustang High School, and renovations of schools around the city as part of MAPS for Kids. Work is set to begin in June and last about a year. During that time, both stadiums will be closed, leaving the home teams to play elsewhere around the metro for one season.

Keith Sinor, athletic director for OCPS, says the renovations and updates of both have been a long time coming.

“We’re totally starting from scratch,” he says. “We haven’t invested any significant money in those stadiums in years.”

Both have the same rock in the exterior walls. And Armbruster says both fall in line with the old saying, “They don’t build ’em like they used to.”

“In some cases, that’s good because of shoddy construction,” he says. “In the case of these, they were built very well.”

Taft, 2609 N. May, also has a unique history that, in addition to being the home football field for Northwest Classen and John Marshall high schools for many years, once hosted car races on a dirt track. An undated video on YouTube shows one of those races. The renovations do not include concessions for such races, but will redo the cracked and aging concrete stands, deteriorated press box and a seating area that has become an overgrown grassy field.

At Speegle, 500 S.W. Grand,
the WPA walls will remain and renovations will upgrade the home of
Capitol Hill, Southeast and Ulysses S. Grant high schools. Taft seats
around 18,000 to Speegle’s 6,000. The plans call for trimming Taft to
about 7,500 and Speegle to about 5,000.

Everything
at both will be brought up to code. Restrooms will be added; concession
stands will be renovated; and both will receive new scoreboards and
have eight-lane tracks with a rubber surface.

The
fields will be replaced with turf that includes finely shredded
granules of tire rubber for a soft, bouncy surface. Armbruster says a
machine will fluff the plastic grass on both fields. He says it is the
same surface found in many college and NFL stadiums.

Taft Stadium

Estimated cost: $9.7 million

The new facilities that will be built consist of:

• WPA wall to remain with minor structural repairs

• artificial turf field

• resurfaced track

• metal grandstands (approx. 7,500 total seats)

• locker rooms

• concession buildings

• public restrooms

• press box

• fenced storage

Speegle Stadium

Estimated cost: $8.3 million

The new facilities that will be built consist of:

• preservation of the WPA wall on the east and north sides

• artificial turf field

• eight-lane track

• new metal home grandstands (approx. 2,500 seats)

• renovated visitor stands (approx. 2,400 seats)

• locker rooms

• concession buildings

• public restrooms

• press box

• fenced storage

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