I’m moving this from being a comment to a post because it deserves a good discussion here and elsewhere. Let’s start with what was said by Grant Humphreys (developer of Block 42, the Flatiron and the former Downtown Airpark site):
Been wanting to share an opinion with you regarding a possible (probable?) MAPS III project. I have read several times (including in your articles) the prospect of MAPS III including construction of a new convention center.
My feeling is the City should approach this with great caution. I believe many resident will respond as I do – which is, we spent a bunch of money renovating the Myriad to Cox, it looks great. If more convention space is needed for continued economic growth downtown I think the City will need to make a very quantified, data-driven case for that.
My thought is, why would developing / filling in the “bowl” of Cox not generate sufficient additional convention space for much less than building an entirely new one? Wouldn’t a new convention center in addition to Cox create a glut of convention space at least relative to the downtown hotel space? I think it would be better to designate a piece of real-estate in Core to Shore for a potential new convention center but NOT make it part of MAPS III.
On one other MAPS III note, I think it would be a VERY good idea to include an outdoor amphitheater as part of the Core to Shore space. Look at downtown Chicago and their Millenneum Park. That’s a great venue and OKC could be just as good as that!
Good question. The old Myriad Arena is yet another unresolved issue from the original MAPS projects – one that a lot of people never fully understood. At one time city leaders were hoping to convert part or all of the arena “bowl” into additional convention space, but the project ran into two obstacles. The first, and primary obstacle, was money. MAPS was ballpark guess at funding needs when the items were placed on the ballot. The costs for the convention center were already way over budget and the idea of converting the arena bowl was quickly shelved. All along, the All Sports Association and other sporting groups contended the city could benefit from keeping the old arena open – and operating across the street from the new Ford Center arena.
At first that contention wasn’t given much consideration. But then came along the Big 12 Basketball championships, and the idea of having men at Ford Center and women at the Cox Arena was a huge hit that put OKC into regular contention for future championships.
So now, the question is, if the old arena bowl were to be converted into more convention space, what would happen to the city’s chances of luring back the Big 12? Would they be happy with the women’s teams playing at State Fair Arena? Or would the magic be lost? Mayor Mick Cornett himself commented that really, if one were to build a convention center right now, the current spot would likely still be the very best choice.
Choices, choices, choices…..