2021 Completed Bond Projects
High School Stadium
The reviews are in, and Union Tuttle Stadium, in its new form, is an unqualified hit. All the blood, sweat and tears poured into reimagining the 45-year-old stadium for the 21st century have been met with thunderous approval. In fact, three ‘Tulsa World’ sports reporters unanimously selected Union’s “Big House” (nicknamed by Coach Kirk Fridrich) as their choice for No. 1 high school football stadium in the state.
“Our kids are worthy, and they’re deserving of this,” said Superintendent Dr. Kirt Hartzler. “I’m never going to apologize for building these great facilities for our kids.”
Associate Superintendent Charlie Bushyhead is very pleased with how it turned out. “The whole feel when you walk out of the concourse into the seating area, it’s all first class. I don’t feel like I’ve been in a nicer high school stadium.” He said the openness was inspired from tours of Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. “When we talked with architects, we mentioned that openness. You are enclosed under a roof but walk into a lit seating area. It really makes for a grand entrance and feels like you’re in an arena.”
With seating capacity at 9,748 seats, there are upper and lower decks on the home (west) side, as well as a press box with hospitality and meeting space. New athletic turf with redesigned end zones were added, as well as new goal posts. Even the east side has been refurbished for visiting spectators, and there are remarkable amenities for Union football and wrestling athletes.
The 580 days it took to complete Phase I of the stadium were not without challenges.
“Because we were expanding the footprint of the west bleachers and adding the band building, the entire campus’s utilities ran through that corner,” said Bushyhead. “Trying to move those in preparation for construction – all while keeping the school running on an active school site with 3,400 students and vehicular traffic – was very difficult. But we made it, due to the extraordinary efforts of Dewberry and Crossland Construction.”
Concourse Level – 8,466 sq. ft.
New Wrestling & Weight Rooms
Located on the field level, beneath the stadium, these spaces are now an adequate size to support the number of athletes using those spaces. At the time of the initial planning, there was no girl’s wrestling team, but that situation has changed dramatically. Girl’s wrestling is now Union’s fastest-growing sport. Fortunately, architects and designers had the foresight to create a second locker room, so we can fully accommodate this change with a separate locker room and practice areas.
SPECS: Field Level Space – 33,981 sq. ft.
Press Box Level Space – 5,842 sq. ft.
Substantial upgrades were made to the press box to accommodate the needs of sportscasters in the 21st century. Not only was the space made ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, but restrooms were added, and more abundant space provided for the news media, but also for visiting and home coaches. Bushyhead said, “The sight lines from inside the press box couldn’t get any better. ‘
The sliding glass windows enable you to feel like you’re in the game.”
Esports Arena at Union High School Freshman Academy
In October, Union unveiled its new esports arena at the Freshman Academy, a redesign of the former orchestra room.
“When we hosted our first tryouts for this season, the response was strong, with more than 150 students showing up,” said Todd Borland, executive director of Information Technology. “We really needed a permanent space given the high level of interest.”
The esports team is a competitive event and is not an after-school club. Union launched the Oklahoma Esports League (OeSL) – the first high school-sponsored league of its kind in Oklahoma – in partnership with nine other school districts across the state a few years ago. Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) voted to make esports a championship activity.
“The buildout by square footage was not very expensive,” said Bushyhead. “We added a few walls, painted, and turned two closets into gaming areas. Most of the work was done internally by the IT and Construction teams. The cost of the technology was negligible, as we already had most of the machines.” At an open house last fall, the esports athletes showed off the new facility to their parents and there was open game play for Smash, Madden, Rocket League and League of Legends.
Work on the baseball field has been completed, with the installation of artificial turf, improved drainage and true dugouts, like the major leagues.
“We decided while we were there to do it right, the Union way, adding a ‘Champion’ wall,” said Bushyhead. “With the turf and improved drainage, you can play on it 30 minutes after the rain stops.” New video scoreboards and lighting, as well as parking and paving renovations will be included in the next bond issue.