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…..
The vote is over, and now the prognasticating has begun. The sports guys at our shop are obviously quite giddy over the prospect of having the NBA to cover here in Oklahoma City. You can listen to their discussion of when the SuperSonics might arrive by listening to today’s podcast.
Back in Seattle, the talk has yet to budge much from vows that the city will fight the team’s relocation until the bitter end. The sports guys at www.newsok.com argue this all about money and speculate the team could arrive at Ford Center later this year.
Regardless, it’s interesting to glance at what the new downtown boulevard will look like once it is completed in 2014. The above image shows the Ford Center as we know it today. Now we know it will look a bit more spectacular, and don’t be surprised if it also looks different from the sketches that were floated during the campaign.
Keep in mind, the buildings you see in the distance in the sketch above do not exist – yet. Will a jazzed up arena and new boulevard really generate the sort of development envisioned above?
Looking for something to do Thursday evening? Urban Neighbors has the following to offer:
Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce President Roy Williams will speak this coming Thursday at an Urban Neighbors (U.N.) meeting in the revived Mid-Town district. Roy Williams will offer information and answer questions about the upcoming March 4th vote regarding improvements to the Ford Center. The Chamber’s campaign is known as the Big League City campaign (www.bigleaguecity.com). ”This is another great example of how Urban Neighbors is bridging the gap between downtown residents and the city of Oklahoma City” said Urban Neighbor’s President, Brett Price. “As an organization that represents residents of downtown Oklahoma City we feel it is our duty to inform not only our members but also any person that would like to voice their opinion” Price further commented.
Election Day regarding the Ford Center vote is March 4th and all registered voters living within Oklahoma City are eligible to vote. This proposition will not raise taxes. If approved, the temporary one-cent tax would begin when the Maps for Kids sales tax elapses on January 1, 2009. The tax would last 12 months, with an additional three months if the City acquires an NBA team. Over 15 months, it will raise approximately $120 million. All improvements will be owned by the City of Oklahoma City.
Timing for the election is driven by the Super Sonics’ application to relocate to Oklahoma City, which is scheduled to be considered by the NBA Board of Governors in April.
The next monthly social for Urban Neighbors will be Thursday, February 21, from 5-7 p.m. at Café Do Brasil. Representatives from the Midtown Association will be on hand to talk about developments in this emerging and exciting part of downtown.
You don’t have to be a member or downtown resident to attend; you just have to be enthusiastic about downtown. This is a great opportunity for downtown residents and friends of downtown to socialize, and for all to become engaged in the city’s forward motion. Free appetizers and a cash bar will be available. Café Do Brasil is located at 440 NW 11th St #100 in Oklahoma City.