Haskell leaders float idea of renovating, repurposing stadium, though funding is lacking

photo by: Nick Krug

Haskell Stadium

After approving a comprehensive facilities master plan, Haskell Indian Nations University will now take the next step of asking the federal government for money to fund it.

However, money needed to renovate and reopen historic Haskell Memorial Stadium is not on the ask-list, even though Haskell leaders like the idea of it.

Discussion of the 90-year-old stadium’s future came up Friday during the annual fall meeting of the Haskell Board of Regents.

“If we don’t use it, it’s just going to go into disarray,” Regent Clarena Brockie said. “It’s going to come to a point where it’s not fixable.”

The school — lacking a football program indefinitely, if not permanently — does not have a plan for the stadium at this time, President Venida Chenault said. She said Haskell has been brainstorming some possibilities and may come forward with proposals at a later time, but that it’s hard to design a renovation or ask for money until a firm plan exists.

Using the stadium as an outdoor concert venue is one idea, she said, or trying to host a national stickball tournament or using the stadium for other sports.

For now the stadium is not being used, and Chenault said it’s estimated it would cost at least $2 million just to fix structural issues.

photo by: Nick Krug

The Haskell Arch, dedicated in 1926, is adorned for its 90th anniversary and in advance of Haskell Indian Nations University graduation weekend, Thursday, May 5, 2016. The arch leads into Haskell Stadium.

“It’s a shame… if we could find the funds to rejuvenate that stadium, we might be able to generate some revenue from the use of it,” Chenault said. “There is a big need for a stadium renovation fund.”

The stadium is not compliant with ADA access guidelines, the track is cracked and unusable, there are problems with the bathrooms and electrical work is needed, Chenault said. She said chairs buckling led to water seeping through the screw-holes where they were attached and leaking into the facility below, ruining some stored equipment and causing a mold problem in the facility below.

“We can’t just let it sit there and further decline,” Chenault said.

However, for now other facilities at Haskell are taking financial priority.

The Board of Regents this week passed a resolution asking the Bureau of Indian Education, which oversees the university, to provide full funding for replacement and renovation of facilities and buildings which are in need, as identified by Haskell’s facilities master plan.

The total amounts to $170 million, Chenault said.

Over the last school year, consultants thoroughly evaluated the structure and functionality of each building on campus, and worked with school leaders to develop a list of priority buildings. It was the school’s first comprehensive facilities plan since 1998.

The 320-acre Haskell campus — designated as a National Historic Landmark — is home to 41 buildings, many of them aging, Chenault said. Four buildings are more than 100 years old, and 21 are 50 to 99 years old.

Haskell badly needs money to renovate and replace buildings, Chenault said, “but the funding has not been available for this campus, so that’s another piece that we have to work on.”