Love’s Travel Stops, the truck stop chain headquartered in Oklahoma City, has made a lead gift to the Oklahoma softball stadium fundraising project, the school announced on Thursday.
The pledge-gift of $9 million includes naming rights to the new facility, which will be monikered “Love’s Field”. The truck stop chain also pledged a dollar-for-dollar match of other donations, up to an additional $3 million.
In total, the truck stop chain will contribute $12 million to the OU softball program. According to a Sooners press release, it is the largest philanthropic gift directed toward a women’s sport in OU athletics history.
“As life-long Oklahomans, investing in the community, specifically the University of Oklahoma and its softball program, is something we’re proud to do,” said Jenny Love Meyer, chief culture officer and executive vice president of Love’s. “What Patty Gasso has accomplished in not only her tenure at OU, but for women’s college softball, is awe-inspiring. The program she’s built aligns with Love’s core values of integrity, perseverance and strong work ethic, and the world was able to see that as they won the 2021 Women’s College World Series. We are proud to have our name associated with this program and the new stadium that’s so well deserved by the team.”
The new softball complex will increase its square footage to 44,000 – up from 15,150 in its current state. The new facility will include a 10,500-square-foot training facility; training room; locker room; and classroom; as well as a space for a “recognition area” to spotlight the program’s national championships and All-American awards.
Set to be built roughly a half-mile south of the current facility, the new stadium will include seating for 3,000; the current facility includes permanent seating for just 1,378 and temporary seating increases current capacity to 1,900.
“I can’t put into words how grateful I am and our program is for the generosity of Love’s Travel Stops and the Love family,” Sooners head coach Patty Gasso said in a statement. “They share our championship mindset and have embraced not only the success of our program, but the culture we’ve built among our student-athletes and fans. They also recognize that for us to maintain the level of excellence we’ve achieved, we must be a national leader in all aspects of our program, including our facility. Love’s is empowering women to reach the absolute pinnacle of achievement while inspiring the next generation to look to the future with the biggest dream. As we see at a moment like this, dreams really do come true.”
Expectations are for a groundbreaking to occur on the new facility in 2022 and for the facility to open in time for the 2024 season.