If you build it, will they come?
Oklahoma State University officials figure to get an early answer to that question this fall when Boone Pickens Stadium opens its gates for the 2008 collegiate football season.
The Cowboys are scheduled to play Houston on Sept. 6 in what will be their first game inside the newly expanded and renovated venue. A record crowd of 60,000-plus fans is expected to ring in what OSU officials are calling a new era of Cowboy football.
The largest phase of the renovation project " which features the enclosure of the west end with increased seating " is slated for completion late this summer, while the new suites, club seating area, offices and everything else will be ready for use sometime next spring.
All of this, of course, has been made possible by the generosity of OSU alumnus T. Boone Pickens, whose gift of $165 million was reported to be the largest single athletics donation ever made to a university. In recent years, the financier has given more than $400 million to OSU's athletics coffer and various other education-based projects around campus.
When the construction dust has finally settled in Stillwater, the 80-year-old longtime OSU supporter will have helped rebuild an entire athletic village that includes a new football stadium, a new soccer facility, track and tennis facilities, a new indoor practice facility, a new equestrian center and a new baseball stadium.
The single-game attendance record (51,458) for the stadium was established during the 1979 Bedlam game between OSU and the University of Oklahoma. That mark will be surpassed on Sept. 6.
Only time will tell what the overall effect the new stadium will have on the football program. OSU undoubtedly has major expectations for the future. "Jay C. Upchurch