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Like a rock


Two metro high school stadiums built in the Depression era are due a makeover

Kelley Chambers May 8th, 2013

Gary Armbruster said he wants to make one thing clear: No one is tearing down Taft Stadium’s historic rock wall that has faced N. May Avenue for more than 70 years.

Taft Stadium
Credit: Mark Hancock

As principal with MA+ Architecture, Armbruster is focused on designs to bring Taft and Speegle Stadiums into the 21st century. Built as New Deal projects in the 1930s, both stadiums have been used for decades by Oklahoma City Public Schools sports teams. The combined budget is more than $18 million with funds from a 2007 school bond issue.

“When you go into Taft and Speegle, they will look like totally new stadiums inside the walls,” said Armbruster. “But from the outside, you’ll see the old WPA (Works Progress Administration) walls still there.”

The Oklahoma City firm has designed renovations on stadiums for Bishop McGuinness High School, Mustang High School, and completed improvements for schools around the city as part of MAPS for Kids. Work is set to begin on the two stadiums next month and is expected to last about a year.

The stadiums will be closed during that time. The home teams will play at other stadiums around the metro for one season.

Taft, 2609 N. May, is the home stadium for Northwest Classen and John Marshall high schools. Speegle, 500 S.W. Grand, is home to Capitol Hill, Southeast and U.S. Grant high schools.

The renovation and update of both stadiums has been a long time coming, according to OKCPS Athletic Director Keith Sinor.

Keith Sinor at Taft
Credit: Mark Hancock

“We’re totally starting from scratch on those stadiums,” he said. “We haven’t invested any significant money in those stadiums in years.”

The renovations at both stadiums will update weathered seating areas, install new eight-lane running tracks and add and update bathrooms and concession stands. Both sites will have new scoreboards, with artificial turf replacing grass on the playing fields.

Both stadiums have the same rock in the exterior walls. Armbruster said Taft and Speegle were built to last, and fall in line with the old adage that “they don’t build em’ like they used to.”

“In some cases that’s good because of shoddy construction,” he said. ”In the case of these, they were built very well.”

 
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