It’s time for OU to expand their athletic facilities


Amelia Osadchuk

The Golden Grizzly logo on the side of the GrizzDome.

Brittany Kearfott, Sports Reporter

Men and women’s soccer, basketball, women’s volleyball and men’s baseball are all Division I sports at Oakland University. This means we compete in the same division as schools like University of Michigan (U of M), Michigan State University (MSU), University of Alabama and more.

Those are some big shoes to fill when you compare a smaller school like OU to schools as big as those mentioned. Some points of the division between the level of DI schools are the facilities, student body and campus life.

For reference, as of fall 2020, OU had a student population of 15,100. U of M had 31,329, MSU had 38,491 and University of Alabama had 37,842. U of M, MSU and Alabama all had enrollment of at least double to what Oakland University experienced.

OU wants a bigger fan base and better fan experience. Outside of basketball and the O’Rena, the facilities are lacking. There is nothing but a scoreboard and portable speaker making the audio subpar at best. The schools we are striving to compete against for a fan base, however, have big screens and surround sound audio with speakers throughout the stadium.

Oakland University averages anywhere from 100-3,000 fans depending on the sport and weather — the O’Rena holds 4,000 fans. Their highest fan attendance is during basketball season, with the average attendance being 2,794 in the O’Rena.

So, the O’Rena can’t even hold the entire undergraduate student body. How are we supposed to get fans and students to come if not even half the student body will fit?

Based off solely basketball, U of M holds 12,707 at the Crisler Center — with their average attendance at 12,463, while MSU’s Breslin Center holds 14,797 with their average attendance at max capacity. Both of these venues can hold almost half the student body, and also six to seven times the amount of fans the O’Rena can inhabit.

The OU campus community and camaraderie has an effect on the attendance and money received from the community to put back into the programs. OU is primarily a commuter school, meaning it has to entice those off campus to want to come back — to or stay on campus longer to attend games. Low attendance comes from advertising, getting the word out and the sense of community among the overall university.

Additionally, out of the 15,100 undergraduate students at OU, only 1,661 live in on-campus housing, which means the school has to make the other 13,000+ aware of the events going on. Realistically, most students just don’t know about half of the events that go on at OU due to a lack of advertising or other issues.

Without a sense of campus community, OU will get no attendance and therefore no money to put back into programs. The best way to increase ticket sales, season pass holders and fan attendance is to focus on how to make the student body come together for a better campus experience. If we can get that, the student body will have as much of a fan base and following as schools like U of M, MSU and Alabama.

This starts with making everyone on campus aware of what events are going on, improving audio (along with the visual and audio experience at games) and improving campus life.

Oakland University currently has no plans to add to their athletics programs nor facilities. However the expansion, renovation, and addition of buildings and parking garages have proceeded. Varner Hall, Wilson Hall and South Foundation are the current projects slated to get underway.

If OU wants a more impactful fanbase, when will it be Athletics’ turn for expansions, additions or renovations?