Maybe Oklahoma isn't a hotbed for tourism and sure, there are a number of larger cities in the state, but there's no better place to be when in the Sooner State than Norman on a given home Saturday in the fall. Crimson and Cream begin to flow into Memorial Stadium like holy water that leads to salvation. Inside you'll feel the endearing love of the game and the warmth of coming home wrapped in the confines of this school-built shrine whose namesake pays homage to those lost in WWI. Put aside all preconceived notions that the 50-yard line is the best seat, you have to find a ticket in Section 18. Sure, it's the end zone but you can see the 50-yard line view from the confines of your own home. This section will place you thick within the Crimson and screaming "Boomer Sooner" so many times that life will seem devoid without that phrase. Norman, and now Section 18, is called home.
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Many times great results are born of a grass-roots movement that begs for something better. Such is the case in the resurrection of Memorial Stadium at the University of Oklahoma. Originally conceived by the students, the movement began in 1921 when a student union was wanted; by 1925 that movement saw the inclusion of a football stadium, as well.
The site on which Memorial Stadium would eventually sit witnessed an early football game between the Sooners and Washington University, with Oklahoma taking that Oct, 20, 1923, game on Owen Field by a score of 63-7. This game took place two years prior to the actual finishing of a stadium, but it was a great step in the right direction.
The first official game to be played in the stadium built in memory of Oklahoma students, faculty and staff who had lost their lives in World War I took place would take place in 1925, before all the bleacher seats had been erected. The venue would eventually seat 16,000.
Today Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, renamed after benefactors to the stadium and the university, is a veritable football cathedral. It is one of the most recognizable stadiums in the nation (and most feared by visiting teams), seats more than 82,000 and ranks in the top 15 of largest on-campus stadiums. A record crowd of 85,646 witness the Sooners overwhelm Texas Tech, 65-21, on Nov. 22, 2008.
The Sooners have sold out every home game since the 1999 season.
By the late 1880s, the Boomer Movement that favored the opening of unassigned land in the Oklahoma Territory had gained momentum and persuaded the U.S. government to allow this land to be cultivated by legal settlers. On April 22, 1889, legal homesteaders would be able to enter the territory and choose lots of 160 acres -- the size of which was determined by the Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed settlers to receive title to that land in five years, should they live on the property and improve the claim.
In what came to be known as the Oklahoma Land Run, all would-be settlers were supposed to stake their claims at the same time on that day in April 1889, but a select few were permitted to get in early. These people would be known as "Sooners." Today a Sooner stands for prosperity, ambition, energy and an individual with a can-do attitude.
Oklahoma would later be recognized as the Sooner State and the football team as the Sooners.
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