Instead of my usual exercise routine at the Simmons Center last week, I opted for a four-mile walk on a sun-drenched afternoon inside storied, old Halliburton Stadium.
It was a delightful experience that took just over an hour, offered plenty of time for my mind to wander and to make several observations related to the stadium that was built for $72,000 in 1941 and will, weather permitting, be the site of Thursday’s annual Duncan High graduation ceremonies.
The facility looks great.
Its new red seven-lane track that encircles the playing field for football and soccer games is first class. Its red-and-tan color scheme on the West home side is attractive. And though I haven’t been in the recently constructed (and at more than $600,000, overpriced) press box it looks and likely is grand.
As I walked my 16 laps on the cushy surface, I thought about the stadium’s marvelous tradition that started with a 6-0 win over Ada in the first game played there, the seven (including two mythical) state championships, the five unbeaten teams and the spectacle of Friday night football that remains more a community gathering than just a game.
And I wondered:
Why hasn’t the two-sided “State champions” board in the north end zone, originally erected by The Banner, been updated in several years? Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association records suggest there have been 45 titles in Duncan boys and girls sports. The board displays fewer than that with championships of recent years not posted.
Why is there no sign, gate, monument or marking that proudly proclaims the historic site “Halliburton Stadium”? Maybe there was some form of designation in the past, but it’s a great opportunity now to add a neglected identification feature to the complex.
What will the lettering on the new press box say? How will it look? Surely, the Duncan Demons logo will be prominently featured in recognition of a tradition that started in 1923 when a school-wide vote favored the nickname. But let’s hope whatever is affixed is done with an artist’s assistance and conveys wording that is professionally drawn, appropriately sized, properly spaced and distinguished with a touch of obvious class.
Why can’t seat and row numbers, now mostly missing, be replaced? I think there are 1,925 seats on the West home side and I assume there are a similar number on the East student, band and visitors side for a capacity of 3,850, but it’s hard to know without seat and row numbers to guide that counting process or provide fan convenience.
Can the stadium lettering be uniform? Numbers that identify lanes on the track look modern and spiffy. Using the same type face for the 12th Man Club, for the now straight-line yard markers on the East side stadium wall and visitor, student and band sections would add a nice touch of aesthetic symmetry.
Should the 25-second end zone clocks be covered for protection from the weather?
Could the tan-and-red color scheme be expanded to the visitors’ East side as well?
Can the existing exterior listing of 56 All-State Demons be enlarged for easier viewing and properly placed as perhaps a Wall of Honor for athletes whose performances were exceptional? Could the list be expanded to include Duncan coaches who have attained Hall of Fame status of their own? Could those championship teams also have a nod of special distinction?
Would installing a taller flag pole in the South end zone and raising a larger American flag add even deeper respect to so important and meaningful a symbol?
Should consideration of an artificial surface be revived to support heavy stadium use, player safety and easier maintenance?
Doors are appropriately locked and windows closed when not in use, but are improvements needed in rest room, locker room and concession stand facilities?
And, finally, should there be a well-publicized safety plan that directs spectators on what to do and where to go in case of stormy, threatening weather?
Halliburton Stadium remains a jewel of a place. It is quaint, unique and full of memories. It is special. And as each year passes, it likely inches closer to being a nostalgic one-of-a-kind facility for high school sports in Oklahoma.
It’s a great place to watch a game. It’s also a great place to walk, to think, to remember and to enjoy.
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