OWASSO – In about two weeks, you would have to be blind to miss Owasso Stadium when driving south down 129th Street on a Friday night.
Between new LED lights, a brand new video board, fresh new turf, and numerous other upgrades to the facilities, administrators in the Owasso High School Athletic Department are assuring the public that game day will be an experience that no one who attends will soon forget.
Thanks to bond issues that were passed by the voters, all of the outdoor athletic facilities are getting an upgrade as part of a $4,563,300 project that was approved by the Owasso School Board in May. That project included new turf surfaces for the football field, the Stigall Field baseball complex, and the softball fields. Some turf was also allocated for an enclosed football practice facility at the request of Head Coach Bill Blankenship.
While athletes will have the privilege of competing on the new surface, the crown jewel of the project will be the new video board in the south endzone of the stadium, which crews began testing this week. The school board approved an $854,000 bid in March from Stronghand LLC to construct the video scoreboard and bleacher addition, which is being financed through a lease-purchase agreement from RCB Bank.
“It really gives the stadium a whole new look.” OPS Athletic Director Zach Duffield said Wednesday. “The resolution and graphics are unbelievable. It is something the city of Owasso can be proud of, and it is definitely something the kids are proud of. We are very fortunate to have something of that caliber for our scoreboard.”
So what benefit does Owasso gain from such a drastic investment? Duffield is quick to list a number of benefits this project brings to the table.
“I think the sky is the limit,” Duffield said. “You talk about a Friday night production that will do starting lineups with pictures, to show videos of previous week’s games. We can have an on-field camera for halftime band performances and on-field presentations. We can also have play sponsors commercials.”
While Duffield and his crew have had some fun testing the video board with random clips this week, the difference he feels the project will make this football season turns to a very serious attitude and commitment.
“First and foremost, the enhancement of what it brings to the Friday night production will be second to none in the state of Oklahoma.” Duffield says.
Behind The Scenes
While many people have run a scoreboard or kept a clock at a little league game, few realize the actual work that the video board will require to keep it moving on a Friday night. In the Owasso Stadium press box, crews have been furiously working to install thousands of dollars worth of equipment which upon completion will actually mirror a television station control room.
Duffield is quick to note that he has little knowledge of how to operate the equipment, but after an exhaustive search, he found the person that does.
Brock Crawford lives in Owasso but spent the last year heading up a communications curriculum for the Claremore School District. While he enjoyed his time as a Zebra, now an opportunity close to home is giving him a chance to run a first-class operation and give some young people opportunities that other schools might not provide them.
“The best thing about this is that it will be a student-run production,” Crawford said of the new equipment. “They will get to have hands-on experience on Friday night.”
Crawford has plenty of real-world experience himself, having graduated from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah with a broadcast journalism degree. He then went on to work for a Tulsa television station. Moving over to the education side, his commitment now is a little more laid back than keeping track of the 24/7 news cycle.
Except for one night a week during the fall.
“I can promise you this.” Crawford emphatically noted. “We are going to bring a college game day atmosphere to high school football in Owasso. I can’t wait!”
The Rams open the season against Bentonville-West (Arkansas) on August 24th.