Tulsa World

Union makes stadium statement

- BILL HAISTEN Tulsa World

Because of the consistenc­y of dramatic greatness over the past 25 years of this series, there’s the possibilit­y and maybe the likelihood that Friday’s Jenks-Union battle is remembered as having been another classic.

For the MidFirst Bank Backyard Bowl — scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff — the live attendance should amount to about 10,000.

Half of the spectators will experience renovated Union-Tuttle Stadium for the first time, and they’ll be blown away by the appearance and amenities of a 45-year-old facility that now feels like a brand-new facility.

Jenks’ 9,000-seat Allan Trimble Stadium has a fairly new press box and additional recent improvemen­ts. Jenks also has the Sharp Center — a $5 million complex that houses the Trojan football program and looks as good and clean today as it did when it was built 15 years ago.

The Trojans have the most accomplish­ed program in the state, and now rival Union has a stunning new stadium.

Within the Jenks Public Schools offices, is there any compulsion or pressure to answer Union’s $35 million statement with a next-level Jenks project?

“I really don’t think so,” Jenks athletic director Tony Dillingham said. “Our seating capacity of 9,000 is ample for what we’re typically going to experience year in and year out. While I love what (Union) did here, and they had the room to do it, I don’t feel any pressure for us to do it at this time.

“To be honest with you, with the way our campus is laid out, we’re sort of land-locked. To do something along the lines of what has happened (at Union), you’d probably have to build an

entirely new stadium at a different location. I think it would be cost-prohibitiv­e at this point in time.”

As participan­ts in a Backyard Bowl news conference on Tuesday, Jenks coach Keith Riggs and several Trojan players were at Union.

“This is my first in-person view of the stadium,” Riggs said. “It’s incredible.

“I began to understand the size of (the Union-Tuttle strength-and-conditioni­ng facility) a few months ago, when I saw a picture of a cement truck actually driving into it. It really hit home when I saw that.”

In February 2018, by a huge margin, Union voters approved a $126.8 million, five-year series bond that resulted not only in the Union-Tuttle renovation, but in myriad projects and improvemen­ts throughout the school district.

What football fans will see on Friday is Phase I of a twopart stadium project. The 2022 Backyard Bowl is also set to be played at Union-Tuttle. By then, Union’s constructi­on of a new fine-arts building will have been completed. That building and a cutting-edge video board will be positioned immediatel­y beyond the north end zone.

During Bixby’s run in Class 6AII, Loren Montgomery built a six-championsh­ip dynasty at Lee Snider Field. In every sense, Bixby has outgrown its current stadium and football complex.

As the Spartans are positioned for a 2022 jump to 6AI, it is believed that the Bixby Public Schools soon will unveil plans for a stadium renovation or possibly a new stadium. It will be interestin­g to see the influence of the Union renovation as Bixby formulates plans for its future.

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 ?? MIKE SIMONS, TULSA WORLD ?? Extensivel­y renovated Union-Tuttle Stadium, with double-decked seating on the west side and a new turf on the playing surface, is the site of Friday’s Backyard Bowl game matching Class 6AI third-ranked Jenks and top-ranked Union.
MIKE SIMONS, TULSA WORLD Extensivel­y renovated Union-Tuttle Stadium, with double-decked seating on the west side and a new turf on the playing surface, is the site of Friday’s Backyard Bowl game matching Class 6AI third-ranked Jenks and top-ranked Union.

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