By MIKE MOGUIN
GTR Sports Writer
Recent passersby at Union High School have probably recognized the progress being made in its efforts to redo Union-Tuttle Football Stadium. Union’s stadium partners are the Dewberry architecture firm and the Crossland Construction Co.
The west side stands were demolished in January.
Since then a few walls have been erected, showing the early phases in construction of the new bleachers and press box.
“The west side is coming along,” Union Athletic Director Emily Barkley said. “As I’ve said to some people, it’s nice to see it now going above ground because at first there was a lot of work that was happening underground. There are concrete walls going up, the elevator shaft is finished and ready to go, and they’re still putting in some of the steel beams in there.”
In the past, the media and additional coaching staff personnel had to walk up the bleachers to get to the press box. That won’t be the case anymore.
“We’re excited to now have an elevator to the press box,” Barkley said. “When you walk in the concourse level at the stadium, if you are a fan going into the stands, you can either go down or up to your seating. If you are headed to the press box, there will be an elevator you can access from the concourse level that will take you up. It is going to be a one-story press box with the cameras on top of it. You’ll be able to get to it via that short ride up the elevator.”
The west stands will not be ready until August 2021. But the east side of the stadium will be ready this fall, where Redskin fans will be seated.
“There were two parts to the stadium project in terms of the seating area,” Barkley said. “What we did on the east side was a complete renovation. We took all the metal bleachers out, power washed the stadium, painted it, reinstalled them, put a brick facade around the outside, and got new lighting. In order to update our event center here at Union Stadium, we put new lighting in, reconstructed the concession stands and storage areas and restrooms. That was the majority of what was done on the east side,” she added.
Visiting fans will be in the north stands.
Other than renovations done to the ticket booths 20 years ago, Barkley said, no updates have been done to the stadium since it was built in 1976.
“There hadn’t been anything structurally done to improve the stadium. When you look at it, that is 44 years worth. So, there was definitely a need to update the stadium because of the shape it had been in and the timeliness of the need to update some of those items.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has not delayed the anticipated completion of construction, the Union AD said.
Assuming there is no interference by the pandemic, Union will only play three games at home this year, with the home opener not until Oct. 2 against Putnam City North. The other two will take place Oct. 15 against Moore and Oct. 23 against Norman North. Then there is the likelihood of hosting a first-round playoff game on Nov. 13 if the Redskins win district or finish runner-up.
Union will open the season Aug. 27 at Mansfield Lake Ridge (Texas) in the last weekend of August, then will remain on the road against local rivals Broken Arrow (Sept. 4), Jenks (Sept. 11) and Owasso (Sept. 25), which will be the District 6AI-2 opener. The Jenks game, known as the Backyard Bowl, will be at TU with the Trojans as the home team.
The Redskins will be able to make it up in 2021 with seven home games.
Watching progression of the construction “just adds to that level of excitement that we’re going to be able to show off and showcase such an incredible facility once it is all said and done, and watching it come together day-by-day gets you more excited about August 2021,” Barkley said.
“I do think our kids, our community, our football coaches and players are super excited to showcase it and host that first game, hopefully in a packed house. There is just an incredible level of excitement surrounding that,” she added.