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  • Writer's pictureMichael Davis

Skelly Field at H. A. Chapman Stadium – Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Photo By Michael Davis, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.14

Skelly Field at H. A. Chapman Stadium 3112 E 8th St Tulsa, OK 74104

Year Opened: 1930

Capacity: 30,000


Tulsa Time

H. A. Chapman Stadium was built in 1930 as Skelly Field, after a donation from Oklahoma oil man William Skelly. The first game was played on October 4th vs. the Arkansas Razorbacks. In 1947, Skelly Field’s seating capacity was increased by 5,000 seats, and the venue’s name was changed to Skelly Stadium, which lasted until 2008, when the facility was renovated by J. E. Dunn Construction, and renamed H. A. Chapman Stadium – the venue is named for the H. A. and Mary K. Chapman Charitable Trust, the main benefactor of the renovation.

The playing surface at H. A. Chapman Stadium is Fieldturf Revolution Cool Play, and the facility is located at 3110 East 8th Street, on the University of Tulsa’s campus; the stadium is next to the Donald W. Reynolds Center, which is the home arena for Tulsa’s basketball and volleyball teams.

There have been numerous events held on the grounds of H. A. Chapman Stadium, such as Major League Baseball and American Football League exhibitions games. The venue has been home to the Tulsa University football team for over 85 years. Other teams calling H. A. Chapman Stadium home have been the United States Football League’s Oklahoma Outlaws and the North American Soccer League’s Tulsa Roughnecks. The University of Tulsa’s football program has appeared in 21 postseason bowls in their history, and has won 35 Conference Championships.

H. A. Chapman Stadium and Tulane’s Yulman Stadium are the smallest venues in the American Athletic Conference, each with a maximum seating capacity of 30,000.

Food & Beverage 4

The food and beverages are in two different areas; there are the older basic concessions stands that are located inside the actual infrastructure of the stadium, or the food concessions on the stadium grounds in the plaza.

The four concession stands inside the structure of the stadium provide fans with basic concessions items like popcorn, hot dogs, pizza, and peanuts – these items range from $2 to $6. The stadium does sell alcoholic beverages in beer tents on the concourse, as well as in Thomas Plaza. The prices are $5 for a 16oz beer, with beer choices of Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, and Rolling Rock. The sale of wine for $7 is another option besides beer.

The more interesting food and beverage offerings are located in Thomas Plaza on the west side of the stadium. There they have outside vendors such as Firehouse Subs, Chick-Fil-A, Twist Which, and Mazzio’s. These stands are unique in that they are located on the lower level of a housing complex, similar to the trend of having restaurants on the lower level in condos. There are also food trucks in this area offering German skillet potatoes, bratwurst, and pulled pork. The most interesting food item from a food truck is the Cajun truck serving Poboy, shrimp, lobster, crab legs, and other seafood items, with prices ranging from $10 to $16.

The food at H. A. Chapman Stadium is above average when you venture into Thomas Plaza and see the out-of-the-box, stadium fare. These choices, along with the traditional stadium food, will give fans plenty of choices to enjoy throughout their time at H. A. Chapman Stadium.

Atmosphere 3

H. A. Chapman Stadium is a great place to watch a game, as the intimacy of the seating brings the football action closer to the fans. The main pre-game festivities are along the north side of the stadium, near the Case Athletic Complex, and provide activities for people of all ages. In addition, there is also plenty of social gathering on Thomas Plaza – this location is inside the gates, but on the outside of the stadium’s infrastructure. As mentioned earlier, this area has plenty of food vendors, including alcoholic beverages, and also has activities for everyone, similar to the pre-game alley outside the stadium grounds. Banners of famous past Tulsa footballers adorn the concourse that goes around the stadium, and the addition of Thomas Plaza gives the stadium a spacious feel, which prevents the venue from seeming outdated for college football.

During the game, the spirit squads and marching band are hard at work getting the fan base to get involved with the game. However, the band is placed in a poor spot on the visitor’s side of the field and can hardly be heard, as H. A. Chapman Stadium is an open-air stadium, so the noise from the band does not reach the far end zone by the videoboard.

Besides the spirit squads, there is a short video clip of a current Tulsa football player on the jumbotron during certain moments (such as third downs) to get the crowd pumped up. The start of the fourth quarter brings out the rise of the hurricane flag, located in the end zone, which includes warning sirens to get the crowd ready for the final quarter of play. The atmosphere suffers by the lack of fans in attendance, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t moments of greatness. The atmosphere will never be that of the powerhouse programs, but if you enjoy sharing time with family and friends while watching college football, H. A. Chapman Stadium provides that type of atmosphere.

A note for travelers not familiar with the unpredictable Oklahoma weather – the stadium is open-air, so a brisk fall day can be quite perfect, but as the colder winter months approach, it can be brutal, not so much because of the temperature, but because the Oklahoma wind can be brutal if you are not dressed in the proper clothing, as the stadium does not provide any protection from the weather’s elements.

Neighborhood 3

H. A. Chapman Stadium is on The University of Tulsa’s campus, which is a very nice campus, but it doesn’t offer much. Near the stadium is the Lorton Performance Center and a few fast food establishments, such as Chick-fil-A, Burger King, Taco Bueno, and Jim’s Coney Island.

That said, if you are looking for restaurants and other fun things to do within walking distance of the stadium, there isn’t much besides the aforementioned options. However, about 4 miles away (about a 10-minute drive) is downtown Tulsa. The city of Tulsa itself has a lot more options for things to do, especially downtown near the BOK Center or OneOK Field. These two areas provide a lot more pre-game and post-game options and lodging. The Hyatt Regency, the Doubletree, and Marriott Courtyard are a few lodging choices that are near these venues. There are also plenty of restaurants nearby, such as Boston Avenue Grill, Albert G’s Bar-B-Q, El Guapo’s Mexican restaurant, and Caz’s Chowhouse.

Fans 3

H. A. Chapman Stadium’s attendance numbers are low in capacity, however, that doesn’t mean that the fans aren’t good. The fans can be vocal at times throughout the game. The student section is small, and are generally sitting near the band in the corner opposite the home team’s sideline.

The crowd’s demographic consists mostly of older alumni, season ticket holders, and local fans with children. However, the fans that represent Tulsa football love their Golden Hurricane and are supportive each home game. Nevertheless, the lack of attendance in a stadium that only holds a modest crowd of 30,000 at best means there aren’t enough people to generate enough noise and excitement to last the whole game. But, if the visiting team’s section is vocal and the game is close, then the fans get into a contest as to which side is louder.

Overall, the fans are polite, intelligent, and enjoy football in H. A. Chapman Stadium, but without the overbearing fan chants, as is the case with their in-state counterparts in Norman.

Access 3

H. A. Chapman Stadium is located on the south side of the University of Tulsa’s campus, off 11th Street between S. Delaware Ave and S. Harvard Ave. Season tickets holders have permits to use the parking areas on campus, but for others there is a little parking available near the stadium. There is parking along the main streets such as 11th, S. Harvard, and S. Delaware, but those spaces come with a price of $5 to $20 depending on how far away the parking is from the stadium. There is the possibility of free parking throughout the nearby neighborhoods, but be careful and observe the posted signs, as there could be towing involved if you park in the wrong place.

The low attendance helps in finding free parking if you decide to arrive at the stadium a couple of hours before kickoff. Furthermore, the entrances to the stadium plaza and grounds are well marked, making a fast and easy process to get inside H. A. Chapman Stadium. The facility is uniquely set up compared to other venues, in that the stadium infrastructure is only 2/3 of the stadium grounds, which allows plenty of space to walk around inside, so you don’t feel confined as you move around the concourse and aisles and walkways throughout the stadium.

The seating is primarily bleacher seating, except for the middle of the home side of the stadium, which is reserved for season ticket holders, so the seats in that area are individual, and are near the elevators that lead to the box seats. The bathrooms at H. A. Chapman Stadium are outdated but easy to access. Overall, the venue is easy to move around once parking is secured for the game.

Return on Investment 4

The University of Tulsa’s single game football tickets are below average when compared to their counterparts in the American Athletic Conference (AAC), and are much cheaper than prices at larger and more traditional football schools. Single ticket prices range from as low as $15 in the end zones to $50 for mid-field seating. These prices, along with cheap to free parking, the low cost at the concessions stands, and quality top tier college football makes the cost of attending a football game at H. A. Chapman Stadium an above average return on investment.

Extras 2

H. A. Chapman Stadium is a venue from the past, that has sustained the age of building new stadiums, by engineering a unique setting in using more than the original infrastructure. The stadium grounds and confined seating doesn’t overwhelm fans, but provides close action to FBS college football.

Final Thoughts

H. A. Chapman Stadium and The Tulsa Golden Hurricane can’t compare to the state schools in Stillwater or Norman. The football program doesn’t have the deep talented players, the tradition, the facilities, or the donors that would enable them to compete with the Oklahoma State Cowboys or the Oklahoma Sooners. However, Tulsa does a wonderful job in competing with other schools in the FBS and in the American Athletic Conference (AAC). The return on investment here is above average, the football talent can at times be well above average, and the historic stadium continues to hold its own in providing a fun-filled college football atmosphere, such that anyone living in or traveling to Tulsa should make a visit during the football season.

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