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Stadium renovation back on Oklahoma regents agenda

The renovation to Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium is about to crank up in earnest.

Wednesday, university president David Boren will ask the OU board of regents to approve $105 million for the makeover to the south end of the stadium. In the fall, the regents previously authorized a $3 million start-up fund so crews could go ahead and get an early jump on the construction. If the regents rubber-stamp this next step, the university will begin to solicit bids for the bulk of the project.

The total project is expected to cost around $160 million. Originally, the school had rolled out an ambitious $370 proposal that came on the heels of the Sooners' Sugar Bowl win against Alabama on Jan. 2, 2014. That would have remodeled the press box, renovated the west side of the stadium and added numerous suites, while also improving fan amenities such as better seating, concession stands and restrooms.

The failure to meet fundraising targets amidst a disappointing 8-5 season in 2014 coupled with a hit to the local economy because of lowered gas prices forced the school to significantly scale back the plans.

Even so, the south end zone renovation should still be a major boost for the program in the college football facilities arms race. Added seats will bowl in the stadium, connecting the south end zone section to the rest of the stadium. Improvements will also include a new weight room, fitness facility and coaches offices.

OU recently erected Headington Hall, half of which houses incoming student-athletes. Coach Bob Stoops has called it a game-changer in recruiting, and the father of incoming Sooner freshman DE Rick DeBerry seemed to agree.

Once completed, the south end zone should be another asset for the Sooners in recruiting.