TPS breaks ground on Will Rogers stadium
Published Nov. 1, 2019
Sparks Reed multipurpose design overcomes elevation, site issues
TULSA (Nov. 1, 2019) – Tulsa Public Schools broke ground Friday on the first football stadium in the history of 90-year-old Will Rogers College High and Junior High School. It uses a game-changing building design by Sparks Reed Architecture and Interiors.
Crossland Construction hopes to finish this $4.5 million project in time for the 2020 school year.
"This facility should give Will Rogers an athletic identity of its own," said Sparks Reed principal and cofounder David Reed. "It creates a place where both the home and visiting teams should like to play."
The Sparks Reed design emulates the school's historic art deco styling while accommodating site constraints. The 12,000-square-foot steel and masonry structure will welcome visitors with an entryway of yellow brick and glass that echoes the high school's iconic art deco tower.
"I love the design," said former University of Tulsa quarterback and coach Dave Rader, a 1975 Will Rogers High School graduate. "I like the way it ties in with the school.
"From my first vision of the school over 55 years ago, it's always been the blond brick," said Rader, who now serves Tulsa in the Oklahoma state Senate. "For me, as I drive up and see the blond brick, I know it's Will Rogers High School."
The entryway opens to a tunnel that leads fans past concessions, restrooms, and a 900-square-foot-plus hospitality suite to bleachers seating 1,000 fans. A second floor provides press boxes, a weight room, sports trainer, and administrative offices.
"It's one of the most exciting things we've done in Tulsa for a long time," said Gil Cloud, executive director of athletics for Tulsa Public Schools. The project is part of a $415 million bond project passed by Tulsa voters in 2015.
"Now Rogers can play at home instead of having to travel to a home game," said Cloud. "It will be right out their back door. It will also give us a quality facility for soccer and track, and we have quality men's and women's soccer teams. It's also a multipurpose facility. The band will use it in the morning for band practice."
This design adapts the school's existing practice field and running track for Will Rogers' first home field. That decision forced Sparks Reed to overcome elevation and site issues.
* The existing field sits in a flood plain detention pond 25 feet below its available parking area. While the field retains water only in emergencies and drains well under stormy conditions, the detention area could not be relocated.
"This meant we had to keep the majority of our construction out of the flood plain," said Sparks Reed architect Bryan Broaddrick.
The Sparks Reed design embraced this with an L-shaped structure that works like a bridge, extending over the slope to connect the main building with the press box and bleachers.
"Spectators will enter the stadium from the top and filter down into the stands," said Broaddrick.
* The field's west sideline runs up against Tulsa's Turner Park, allowing no space for bleachers. This forced Sparks Reed to put all seating on the east sideline, behind the home team benches.
These factors should separate the Will Rogers game experience from every other school in the region, said Broaddrick.
"It's going to mean a lot to the school," said Rader, who represents District 39 in Tulsa. "To be competitive in today's school market, you need to have the best students you can possibly have. This helps attract more students."