Do sports justify eminent domain? Yes, they do. At least in Stillwater, where a judge ended a year of court battles between residents and Oklahoma State, which is bankrolled these days by T. Boone Pickens (click the cartoon above).
It started when Oklahoma State expressed a desire to build a $316 athletic village just north of campus. It needed 331 properties for the project, funded in large part by a $165 million donation by Pickens. Most of the properties were residential homes.
At the center of the fight was whether Oklahoma State could use eminent domain, or the taking of private land for public use, to build an athletic complex for use only by university athletes. Construction has already begun.
Residents fought with all their might, including turning to the Internet. First the site Boone State was started, followed by OK State Expansion.
But the last hurdle for Oklahoma State was cleared Monday when District Judge Donald Worthington ruled that the university had the right to take a small ranch house and land owned by brothers Kevin and Joel McCloskey. The property is 3,000 square feet and sits where plans call for an indoor pitchers' bullpen in the village.
The brothers plan to appeal to the state Supreme Court, a process that could take several years. If the McCloskeys win (a longshot to say the least), they could get control of the property back, despite university construction on it.