Will Rogers Stadium Opening and Hall of Fame Ceremonies Postponed Until the Spring of 2021

GTR Sports Writer

Midtown Monitor photo
NEW LOOK: Stadium bleachers, press box and locker room facilities are being added to the football field and track at Will Rogers High School.

There was once a time a football fan could go to the field circled by a running track at Will Rogers High School and imagine making plays. 
No one can do that nowadays since the facility is surrounded by a chain-linked fence, but the idea will eventually become a reality for Roper players. That’s because a section of stands and an additional facility are being built on the east side of the field, and it’s making progress. 
According to the Will Rogers High School Community Foundation, while the construction is on schedule, for completion, due to COVID-19, plans are being put on hold until 2021.
As of mid-July, the bleachers are up, the electricity has been installed and slabs are being poured on the inside. “So they’re getting close,” Athletics Director Krystel Markwardt said. 
The new facility connected to the bleachers will have a press box, a hospitality room, alumni suites, a team workout room and locker rooms for track, soccer and football.
“It’s (art deco) going to be matching the looks of the field house on the backside of the campus,” Markwardt said. “The art deco will be similar to the entrance (of the gym) and what is on our historical school building.”
As far as the COVID-19 pandemic, whether there will be a gridiron season or not is in question.
“They haven’t done anything yet as far as the season is concerned, in regards to cancelling it,” Markwardt said. “OSSAA released a statement on July 16 saying that everything is on schedule. But all the states around us are starting to do things like push the season to the spring or shorten the season and not do the non-district games.”
New Mexico announced in early July that it was cancelling its high school football season with reports that it may open in the spring. Texas was to announce its plans later in the month.
The coronavirus health crisis caused the cancellation of the state basketball tournament last March, in which the Rogers girls made the Class 5A field. The pandemic also wiped out spring sports. 
Before the Ropers meet Hale in their debut of their new stadium, they are scheduled to play road games against Okmulgee (Aug. 28) and Hilldale (Sept. 4).
Plans to build the stadium had been discussed for a long time, said Markwardt, who is entering her seventh year as the Rogers AD.
“When I got here in 2014, the kids were talking about a new stadium. It’s been talked about every year since,” she said. “It actually made the bond issue in 2015 and it’s just now getting built. It’s been a long time coming. Our alumni are very excited. We haven’t had a home game since we opened the school.”
Will Rogers High School was built and opened in 1939. It has a notable alumni base, including former University of Tulsa quarterback and coach Dave Radar, now a state senator, recording artists David Gates and the late Leon Russell, S.E. Hinton, author of the novel The Outsiders, which later became a movie filmed in Tulsa, former Arkansas and NBA star Lee Mayberry and the late Don Chandler, who was the kicker for the Green Bay Packers in the first two Super Bowls. 
In its history, the Ropers football team has played games at the University of Tulsa’s Skelly Stadium (now known as Chapman Stadium), and the stadiums at Webster and Booker T. Washington.
“For several years we’ve had to load up for every game,” Markwardt said. “It’s going to an awesome experience for those kids not to have to travel every Friday.
“The excitement right now is they finally see something being built,” Markwardt added. “Our attendance in football has already changed. Usually about this time, TPS football, we struggled in summer for multiple reasons, but transportation was the biggest one because we had to get kids to the summer workouts. We have now had 60 kids show up to work out for summer football, which is huge. That has not happened since I’ve been at Rogers.”

About Post Author