Josh Holliday hardly stopped smiling Wednesday afternoon as he toured his future home.
Holliday helped lead a small group of select media members through the construction site at the northeast corner of McElroy Road and North Washington Street.
It’s better known as the future home of the Oklahoma State baseball – O’Brate Stadium. The nearly hour-long exclusive tour included select areas of the stadium, including the team clubhouse and the indoor practice facility.
As Holliday introduced each area and talked about what it included and how it would look when completed, the smile never left his face. The seventh-year OSU baseball coach doesn’t have a good poker face, but the former Cowboy baseball player who grew up around the program in historic Allie P. Reynolds Stadium has plenty of reasons to smile about the future of his program.
“You used to try and build this stuff out of a sand castle or set of Legos, but now to see it in real life, it’s fascinating,” Holliday said. “I just compare it to having vision and working with Coach (athletic director Mike) Holder and Studio Architecture and talking about what we want to have. … Watching it get built, there are many days I just shake my head, thinking it’s really, really happening.
“When you get out here now, you’ve got an outfield wall – you’ve got some things you can kind of close your eyes and envision it happening right here on this field. It’s fascinating and definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
The outfield wall has begun to be built, but isn’t finished, according to Manhattan Construction project managers on site. The center field entrance has also begun to take shape, but also has a lot of work left to be done, as does much of the stadium.
Construction began last March, but big steps have been taken recently on the $60 million project during recent days and weeks. On Wednesday, the media tour witnessed the third base light gantry being installed with a large crane, which according to the project managers was a big day.
“There’s a significant change in the sight lines across the outfield in the last three weeks,” Holliday said. “That much I can really see is different. … Obviously, these amazing lights going in. Those are some huge structures that are going to give our ballpark some recognizable personality much like the lighting you see mounted on Boone Pickens Stadium. There is some significant progress in the last month or so.”
Progress is being made every day at the construction site. Some of that includes about one-third of the parking lot north of the stadium.
However, like most construction projects, weather has been an issue. According to the project managers, they’ve had about 60 rain days since beginning the project last year. They added that it’s been a rather wet winter.
“You build some in, but we’ve had an unusual amount, so we’ve had more than what is normal,” Assistant Project Manager Jay Cheves said. “You just try to work around it as best you can.”
Despite the wetter than average winter, Cheves said the stadium construction is still on pace to be ready for the 2020 home opener. He said Manhattan Construction will hand part of the project over in August or early September so the field work can be done inside the stadium and on the practice field, located on the northwest area of the complex.
Holiday said the 2020 season will begin in Arizona for a few games before returning to Stillwater to open a new stadium for the first time since 1981.
Holiday was asked if he’s pictured what that opening day will look like, but he hasn’t thought about it, yet.“I haven’t thought that far ahead, I really haven’t,” Holliday said. “But, I’m sure it will be magnificent.”
He added that everyone will enjoy the new ballpark when it opens.
“I’m very confident if you’re a fan you’re going to love it,” Holliday said. “If you’re a player, you’re going to love it. I know I love it, because it’s us, it’s Oklahoma State. I think our opponents will come here and love it, and say playing Oklahoma State is tough, but man I’d go back and play in O’Brate Stadium every chance I could get.”
There are currently no finalized plans to honor the program history at O’Brate Stadium. Some of that history is up for fans to see at Reynolds Stadium, but Holliday said the new home of the program will definitely recognize the past success of Cowboy baseball.
“I promise you the story will be told,” Holliday said. “It will be told on behalf of the great teams, the individuals, the coaches and all of the great people that made Oklahoma State what it was enough to make this facility happen. Those amazing teams, coaches and players that made OSU baseball important are the reason why this stadium is being built. We will celebrate them.”