Because thousands of drivers and pedestrians pass every day, it’s the worst-kept secret in Stillwater.
Something is happening at the intersection of Washington Street and McElroy Road.
A few hundred yards northwest of Boone Pickens Stadium and immediately north of the Greenwood Tennis Center, there is a section of land that is enveloped by fencing.
Attached to the fencing are MANHATTAN signs.
MANHATTAN is Manhattan Construction — the same Manhattan Construction involved in the development of ONEOK Field, the BOK Center and the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium. The same Manhattan that did Oklahoma State’s Gallagher-Iba Arena renovation and currently is building the university’s McKnight Center for the Performing Arts.
Within the fenced area are trucks, graders and backhoes — some of the essentials of preparing a construction site. It has been known for a while that this particular section of land has been designated as the site of a new Oklahoma State ballpark.
“The most accurate and honest thing I can tell you,” sixth-year Cowboy coach Josh Holliday said, “is that the site is being prepared for an amazing college baseball stadium.”
OSU athletic director Mike Holder has not divulged the cost of the project, the identity of the primary source or sources of funding or any information related to the design.
It is not yet known when OSU will formally acknowledge that the process has begun or unveil architectural drawings, but it is expected that the baseball Cowboys will be in a new park by opening day 2020.
“It’s a game-changer, man,” Holliday said. “It’s got a chance to revitalize our position in the landscape of college baseball.”
While on a bus with his players, as they traveled to Austin, Texas, for their Friday Big 12 opener against the Texas Longhorns, Holliday also withheld specifics about the stadium design but couldn’t contain his happiness about the activity at the corner of Washington and McElroy.
“In a short amount of time — I don’t know when — coach Holder and the school will share with everyone what this project will look like,” Holliday said. “It’s fantastic, the amount of work that coach Holder has done on our behalf.
“Other folks have been a part of this for six years, working to bring this baseball stadium project to life. I’m pretty amazed and overwhelmed. We’re very close to something happening that has a chance to be remarkable.”
For 38 seasons, the Cowboys’ home venue has been Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. It’s not a totally inadequate facility, but it’s outdated and plain.
OSU’s new park is expected to be among the best in college baseball and on the same level as Mississippi State’s jewel of a facility — $55 million Dudy Noble Field.
“You know how this works,” Holliday said. “It’s important to be front and center (with facilities). You’re building on a great tradition and it puts you back on the main stage with (recruits).”
After Holder became the athletic director in 2005, his plan was for the development of an Athletic Village that would include an indoor practice facility for the football Cowboys, along with new competition venues for OSU’s baseball, track-and-field, tennis and soccer programs.
Holder envisioned construction projects occurring on a simultaneous basis, but the Village enterprise was dealt a setback.
During the stock-market crisis of 2008, OSU lost $282 million from its facilities fund. If not for that, the baseball program probably would have been in a new park seven or eight years ago.
It took a while, but the indoor facility was completed in 2013. Track and tennis athletes have new facilities. A soccer stadium will be finished this year.
Now, with Holder having been relentless in fund-raising and Holliday having been patient, the baseball Cowboys are next in line for a state-of-the-art upgrade.