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Report: OU to delay Memorial Stadium expansion, school president denies it

Oklahoma is planning on postponing the major renovation project to Gaylord Family-Memorial Stadium announced last summer. Or, they’re not. One or the other.

A report from SoonerScoop.com released Wednesday stated Oklahoma had informed contractors and architects that it is placing the $370 million project on hold due to “market related” factors. More specifically, the price of oil has dropped precipitously, directly impacting many of the Sooners’ big money donors. The report outlined that OU’s fundraising arm has struggled to secure sales of new suites, which would underwrite a large portion of the renovations.

The Sooners’ limp finish to the 2014 season certainly didn’t help, but SoonerScoop writes that competitive factors aren’t holding up the project. “The football outlook has barely entered into the discussion at all,” a source told the site. “It seems everyone knows upgrades like this are important in keeping us competitive.”

Another reason, the report states, that the project will go on hold has been Oklahoma president David Boren‘s drive to secure funding for OU’s Residential College, a sort of academic utopia mimicking schools back east and across the pond. “The new housing facilities will be designed as living/learning communities that would, by their nature, build strong communities and identities and become the cornerstone of the undergraduate experience,” said a university press release. “They will be patterned on those at Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge.”

As fate would have it, the report went live as Boren spoke to reporters at an OU Board of Regents meeting.

During interview with Boren, he pulled a printed out copy of the @SoonerScoop report out of his jacket and called it false.

— Jason Kersey (@jasonkersey) January 28, 2015


Well, then.

David Boren said that “from the way it reads,” @SoonerScoop must have gotten its information from the athletics department. #Sooners

— Jason Kersey (@jasonkersey) January 28, 2015


David Boren said everything is good to go, but then did admit that oil and gas prices have hurt “all fundraising.” #Sooners

— Jason Kersey (@jasonkersey) January 28, 2015


To its credit, SoonerScoop is standing by its reporting.

President Boren calls our reporting false. I can only tell you our sources have been told stadium expansion is on hold.

— SoonerScoop.com (@SoonerScoop) January 28, 2015


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Our reporting has uncovered a lot of people at odds throughout this process. We have been researching/working this story since the bowl game

— SoonerScoop.com (@SoonerScoop) January 28, 2015


Boren said that Oklahoma is “shovel ready,” and that he is slated to discuss the project with the Regents at their March meeting.

One thing is certain with stories like this: either the renovations will happen, or they won’t. We’ll find out soon enough.