In 2005, Oklahoma State announced plans to build a $316 million athletic village just north of campus. There was one problem. The land needed for the project contained 331 properties, many of which were homes constructed after World War II, long before Oklahoma State ever dreamed of something called an athletic village.
Many of homeowners united to fight the university and its planned development, but backed by billionaire T. Boone Pickens, it was clear the homeowners were fighting a losing battle. Nonetheless, brothers Kevin and Joel McCloskey, who owned a 3,000-square foot property that included a 631-square-foot rental house and a garage, fought to the end. But Oklahoma State used eminent domain — the legal concept under which private property can be taken for public use — to eventually secure the McCloskey property.
Never mind that the university — backed by Pickens' bankroll — ticked off half of Stillwater for its grand plan. T. Boone and Company could not be stopped and the demolition of homes began in earnest in 2007.
Today, the proposed village is 100 acres of mostly nothing, and there are questions whether the project will ever become reality.
"I'm personally committed to getting it done, but I'm not personally able to do it right now," athletic director Mike Holder told the Tulsa World. "It will take a lot of people making a lot of money to get it done. It's a pretty expensive endeavor."
The moneyman in all of this, Pickens, took a huge financial hit with the collapse of the oil market. But he remains committed to the cause, saying the village would be complete "within the next 10 years."
"We've just got to make some money," he said. "But I do think it's going to happen."