University of Oklahoma has announced Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium upgrades for 2019, including expanded Wi-Fi access and improved accessibility.
“Our stadium is one of the great venues in the history of college football, but it needs upgrades, too,” said Joe Castiglione, OU vice president and athletics director. “Among the improvements underway is a first-rate technological experience. We recognize that connectivity is an important piece of the fan experience. We’re also exploring ways to use the wireless access to further engage our fans in nearly every aspect of game attendance.”
OU is working closely with AT&T in making the wireless addition. Currently, only the south end zone seats have specific wireless access. The system that is being installed will be the latest version in Wi-Fi technology, Wi-Fi 6, which will have a significantly higher capacity than its most recent predecessor. It is designed specifically to provide greater access in congested environments. There will be 750 access points added to the 245 that already exist in the south end zone.
The Distributed Antennae System (DAS), which serves cellular service, will remain. It has been enhanced in recent years.
Also, as part of the upgrades, handrails will be added throughout the facility, and some seats, which did not meet the code width of 18 inches, and aisles are being widened. Those changes add to the stadium’s ability to accommodate ADA patrons.
“The changes we are making give us a more accessible stadium while also helping us provide greater accommodation for everyone,” Castiglione said. “Our fans will find that it’s easier to move around the facility and we’ll definitely improve the comfort of enjoying the game.”
The handrail and widening projects will decrease the stadium’s capacity by approximately 3,000. OU officials have been planning for that reduction for several years.
“Since we first included this as part of our master plan, we have known about the reduction and have been planning accordingly,” Castiglione said. “At the time the south end zone project was in progress, we knew that the increase we would realize from that addition would later have some offset with this project.
“In planning, we have watched closely those seats that would be lost and not re-sold them when they became available. Otherwise, we have worked with ticket holders in finding new seat locations. Our goal is to take this very important step with as little disruption as possible.”
Work on all of the projects is already underway.
Image courtesy Oklahoma Sooners.