Oklahoma football: OU’s ‘Palace on Prairie’ mid-size for SEC Country

The Oklahoma football move to the SEC places the Sooners in a league with several of the big brands in college football, but also in a conference with the largest seating capacities in the college game.

Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, affectionately billed as the “Palace on the Prairie” by the Sooner faithful, is the second largest stadium in the Big 12 behind the University of Texas. Texas’ Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium — which ironically is named after the OU alum and quarterback/defensive back of the same name who played in the late 1940s under legendary head coach Bud Wilkinson — holds 95,600. That’s approximately 9,000 more than OU’s home field.

No other Big 12 football stadium is really close to Oklahoma and Texas in terms of seating capacity, but that won’t be the case in the Southeastern Conference, where Saturday football is practically a religion. Considered the strongest football conference in the country, the SEC stadiums are some of the most iconic in college football and of a size highly representative of the best football conference in the land.

The home of the football Sooners would rank eighth in the current 14-team SEC structure and ninth once Texas and OU join the conference. When you take into account, however, nine of the 25 largest football stadiums in college football currently reside on the SEC. Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, with a capacity of 86,112, ranks 13th on that list.

Texas A&M’s Kyle Field ranks first among SEC schools, No. 4 in the country, with a stadium capacity of 102, 711. That is followed by No. 5 Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium (102,455), No. 6 Tiger Stadium at LSU (102,321) and No. 7 Bryant-Denny Stadium at Alabama (101,821).

LSU’s Tiger Stadium may be the third largest football stadium complex in the country and sixth largest in the country, but it is probably the loudest in college football, particularly during night games.

Of the SEC’s six largest stadiums (Texas A&M, Tennessee, LSU, Alabama, Georgia and Florida), only Neyland Stadium at Tennessee is older than OU’s Memorial Stadium, which opened at its current site in 1923, while Bennie Owen was coach of the Sooners. The stadium itself was named to honor the OU students who died in World War II. The playing surface was later named Owen Field to honor Oklahoma’s longest-tenured football coach (1905-1926).

Oklahoma may be down the line in the SEC in terms of stadium size, but I can assure you that it will continue to be one of the hardest places to win in the country if you are a visiting team and the Sooner fans will be out in force and as passionate and vocal about their team as any SEC school.