So how ambitious is Mayor Mick?
When it comes to Core to Shore, he might have let a hint or two slip about what he envisions when it comes to a new “central park” that is to be the area’s main attraction.
Speaking at a recent OKC Rotary luncheon, Cornett mentioned just one park as an example of what was on his mind: Chicago’s Millennium Park.
(At this point those of you who are familiar with Chicago surely just let out a big gasp).
Millennium Park isn’t that old. Construction began in 1998 and it opened in July, 2004. It’s really something to behold, especially considering it qualifies as the world’s largest rooftop garden.
It didn’t come cheap – budget overruns brought the pricetag to just under $500 million. But it’s having a substantial impact on Chicago, the city’s quality of life and image.
This park is so big I’ll need three or four posts just to lay it all out. Consider this the intro. I’ll be back later today with more.
That means I’ll be off the blog Tuesday. In the meantime, let me put in a plug, rather selfishly, for a private non-commercial website that I run with Jack Money, www.okchistory.com. We’ve been having a lot of fun with it of late, posting vintage commercials, history book reviews, old photos and images, and plain fun with the city’s past. I’ll be back Wednesday with a post hiting at what might be next for downtown and Core to Shore.
Not everybody is trashing OKC’s hosting of the Big 12 this week:
(read entire blog here)
Thoughts before leaving the OKC corrals
by Tom Kensler on March 13, 2009
Some thoughts before departing from the 2009 men’s and women’s Big 12 basketball tournaments in Oklahoma City:
The conference is blessed to have two outstanding options for the league tournaments. College basketball, of both genders, matters in Kansas City and Oklahoma City. Welcome signs adorn the storefronts of businesses. Hotels made up special Big 12 “Do not disturb” signs to hang from doorknobs. School pennants and conference banners are displayed everywhere.
And talk about convenience … the two arenas in Oklahoma City are across the street from each other and the restaurant-and-entertainment district, Bricktown (similar to Denver’s LoDo), is just two blocks away.
The 2010 and 2011 Big 12 tournaments will be played in Kansas City. Once again, the conference will hold its spring meetings at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs in May. If the league’s presidents/chancellors have any sense, they should award the 2012 tournaments to Oklahoma City and then rotate the championships between the two cities.
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When you see reports like the following detailing dubious reporting from a Kansas City tv station, and then the following AP story, it’s time to realize that such knocks no longer represent reality, but rather the possibility that OKC has indeed hit the big time and is thus fair game for pot shots.
Consider such fact-devoid infotainment to be a compliment that yes, OKC really has hit the national radar screen:
First, a report by KWTV on shots taken by a Kansas City station:
And then there is reporting from a bastion of journalistic excellence by Jon Krawczynski, AP Sportswriter (read this and then ask yourself why newspapers across the country are considering dropping AP):
The Minnesota Timberwolves were in action that night hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder. If that sounds like a sequel to “Bull Durham,” it should be, but it isn’t.
But the Sonics failed to secure public assistance in financing a new arena, so new owner Clay Bennett moved the team from a gleaming metropolis to a cow town. And NBA commissioner David Stern didn’t even flinch in approving the move.
With bright blue and orange uniforms, a chintzy nickname and a dust-bowl hometown in the middle of nowhere, everything about this franchise screams minor league baseball.
Are there knotholes in the fenceposts ringing the Ford Center in Oklahoma City where kids can peek through to see the games?
Is there a pig that brings the game basketball out to the officials for the opening tip?
If Kevin Durant tops 40 points in a game does every fan get a coupon for a buffet at the local Pizza Ranch?
It would be funny if it wasn’t so depressing.
For 41 years — 41! — the franchise had roots in one of the most vibrant cities in the United States, winning an NBA title as the Seattle SuperSonics in 1979.
Finally, consider this bit from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which seems to think MAPS was passed in the early 1980s and implies that Oklahoma City is having trouble competing with Tulsa for concerts now that BOK Center is open (FACT: Ford Center is pretty much booked right now with the NBA, Big 12 and other events and will be closed April through fall for expansion and renovation tied to the arrival of the NBA):
Before the BOK Center was built, Elton John and Billy Joel never would have performed in Tulsa. Now they will.
The duo’s sold-out March 17 concert will be a highlight of the city’s newest entertainment venue, which opened in September.
When they built the 19,199-seat venue, planners hoped people would come.
They have. More than 420,000 of them by mid-February have come to see major concerts by acts such as Metallica, Celine Dion, AC/DC, Kenny Chesney and The Eagles – who opened the venue with a Sept. 6 show, on their Long Road Out of Eden tour.
The Eagles show sold out within about an hour after tickets went on sale on the Internet. And the band was so impressed with the experience, members decided to return to Tulsa for a second soldout show during that tour in November instead of going to Oklahoma City, says Paige Laughlin, marketing manager.
“For the past 10 years, everyone in Tulsa has been traveling to Oklahoma City,” Laughlin says.
Now repeat after me: Tear it all down! Tear it all down! Tear it all down! Tear it all down! Tear it all down! Tear it all down! Tear it all down!
Now, part 2. Look for the third and final segment around noon.
This ought to spark some conversation:
I’m doing a test post with quick press. Readers, please ignore what I’m doing here.
I’m told that OPUBCO’s very talented blog guru, Nick Tankersley, is preparing to upgrade WordPress from 1.2.2 to 2.7. Not sure what it all involves, other than the blog will look better and I’ll look more bewildered than ever.
There may, or may not, be access issues in the morning.
That’s my response to those of you who think Bricktown is filled with tall red-headed Irish fellas. Sorry, but despite the best efforts of the Brewer family to make Bricktown the hub of all things Irish and their St. Patrick’s Day festivities, we just don’t get that many tall red-headed Irish guys in Bricktown.
Now I know what you’re thinking; “Steve, how can you be sure?” Or maybe you’re wondering if this stranger was simply a long-lost relative of Mick Cornett. Nope, if you saw this stranger on Monday, in Bricktown, or in the vicinity of KFOR-TV, it was Conan. I’m told he was in town doing some prep work for his new show that starts in June.
So how was Conan spending his time here?
I don’t know.
So let’s just dream up a dream itinerary for Conan’s stay in downtown Oklahoma City:
6 a.m. Monday: Arrives at Will Rogers World Airport via Southwest Airlines. Finds out the show “Airline” is filming here and he quickly attacks a flight attendant with his friend, “vomiting Kermit.” OCPD are called, Conan rushes outside to catch a cab. Too bad he had to wait an hour. This ain’t no taxi town, Conan.
7:05 a.m. – OCPD catch up with Conan. But they are disappointed and bitter when they realize that the flight attendant was not attacked by an actual celebrity. She reported she was attacked by Conan’s distant cousin, television and movie star and fellow Irish guy Denis Leary. OCPD has high standards for celebrity crime in this town – we’re talking MacCauley Culkin on a traffic stop or Jim Belushi getting intoxicated in Bricktown. Conan is unceremoniously dropped off at the drunk tank at the entrance to Bricktown.
10 a.m. – Conan is released by Detox supervisor after more than two hours of constant crying and wailing about needing his momma to come pick him up. Vomiting Kermit has made new friends and chooses to stay. Conan asks why his fellow detainees are all excited about incoming weather and the chance to play the “Gary England drinking game.”
10:10 a.m. – Conan finds week-old newspaper announcing that Oklahoma City is the nation’s third most manliest city. Conan tries to fit in; he goes to Bass Pro, buys overalls, fishing boots, plaid shirt and a Texas Aggies ballcap.
10:25 a.m. – Conan waits for an Oklahoma Spirit trolley to pick him up at the stop outside Bass Pro.
11:30 a.m. – Conan gives up waiting for the trolley. He walks over to Toby Keith’s. Conan flirts with the waitresses and tells some jokes. The waitresses laugh at him, not with him.
noon: Conan hitchhikes a ride to KFOR and does an interview. He’s hurt, disappointed and confused that he can’t do the interview with all three Ogle brothers. Linda Cavanaugh does her best to console Conan.
1 p.m. – Conan decides to check out The Underground. He has not been seen since.
10 p.m. – Wailing is heard from the entrance to The Underground at the County office building. This sort of thing is considered normal at the home of Oklahoma’s proud county government.
It seems as if I’ve been going back to these basics of journalism a lot lately.
Now here’s a scenario being fought about behind the scenes. For now we’ll keep the other players’ identities quiet in the interest of being fair. But if they stick to their guns, I might just out them and start a new policy of letting you the readers know when you’re being excluded from public policy discssions.
I’d like your feedback on the following:
A private organization whose existence depends on a publicly funded contract hosts a meeting with developers. A consultant hired by the city speaks to the developers at said meeting. The discussion involves future actions and policies related to downtown growth and development.
Should I as a reporter be barred from attending? Interestingly enough, several of the developers felt I should have been allowed. The other sides argue otherwise. The cited reason? The old “Some of the people may not feel free to express their true thoughts or ask questions if a reporter is in the room” bit.
I’ve heard this one before. A classic was when former ODOT head Neal McCaleb insisted the public didn’t need to hear deliberations on which route would be chosen for relocation of the I-40 Crosstown Expressway. (Jack Money and I crashed that meeting anyway, dared the ODOT folks to forcibly remove us and came out with one heck of a front-page story). And because we were there, we remain a reminder to all that the state as represented by McCaleb promised to build and pay for a boulevard to replace the current alignment.
So, do you the readers want me to attend such meetings and report back to you? Or would you rather these discussions be held in private?