The OU athletics department announced Thursday its plans for Love's Field, a $27 million new softball stadium the Sooners hope to open in 2024, spearheaded by a naming gift from Oklahoma-based Love's Travel Stops.
Love's had pledged $9 million of its own and will match up to $12 million total for the project, which is the largest financial gift toward a female sports program in OU athletics history. More than $20 million has already been raised for Love's Field through donations by Sooner Club Members, and groundbreaking is expected to begin in 2022.
"I can't put into words how grateful I am and our program is for the generosity of Love's Travel Stops and the Love family," OU coach Patty Gasso said in a press release. "They share our championship mindset and have embraced not only the success of our program, but the culture we've built among our student-athletes and fans.
"They also recognize that for us to maintain the level of excellence we've achieved, we must be a national leader in all aspects of our program, including our facility. Love's is empowering women to reach the absolute pinnacle of achievement while inspiring the next generation to look to the future with the biggest dream. As we see at a moment like this, dreams really do come true."
Oklahoma is fresh off its fifth NCAA championship and 20th conference title under Gasso, who in 27 seasons as coach owns a 1,335-341-2 record. Her .792 winning percentage is highest among coaches with at least 1,000 games coached. OU has produced 69 All-Americans and three national players of the year during her tenure and is the only team to remain ranked National Fastpitch Softball Coaches Poll each week since it began in 1995.
Love's Field will be constructed on the northwest corner of South Jenkins Avenue and Imhoff Road, about one-half mile south of the current Marita Hynes Field, and parking for the new facility will be on the current surface at the Lloyd Noble Center. OU's current seating capacity including temporary seating is 1,900, but the new stadium will increase capacity to 3,000 with additional room for expansion.
The new stadium plans also include a 10,500 square-foot indoor training facility, which is nearly double the size of OU's current training space, and includes a new training room, locker room, classroom and trophy staging area. Overall, the new complex is expected to reach 44,000 square feet compared to 15,150 at the current softball stadium.
"This transformative gift from Love's Travel Stops turns our dream of building a best-in-class softball facility at the University of Oklahoma into a reality," OU president Joseph Harroz said in the release. "Many future generations of student-athletes and Sooner fans will be impacted by the generosity of our friends at Love's, and we are remarkably grateful for their support."