What you probably didn't know about the OKC Fairgrounds
Oklahoma City residents know that each September the Oklahoma State Fair takes place at the OKC Fairgrounds, but many don’t realize what happens the rest of the year. You might notice that we are in the process of re-branding the property from State Fair Park to OKC Fairgrounds. Research has shown us that the citizens of central Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City in particular, more closely align and identify with this name.
The OKC Fairgrounds is a 435-acre parcel of land owned by the City of Oklahoma City and is managed by Oklahoma State Fair, Inc through a long-term management agreement. We work closely with the City of Oklahoma City to provide a 21st Century Tourism Destination and a place where the community can come together to enjoy a wide variety of family-friendly events and activities. One of our goals is to create economic development for the City of Oklahoma City through tourism. This goal is accomplished by hosting 200 events annually. For the past three years, these events have produced over $325 million annually in direct spending into the Oklahoma City economy. For that same time period, our attendance has averaged more than 2.15 million visitors annually. Surveys have shown that of the visitors to the OKC Fairgrounds, 53% are our neighbors from right here in the Oklahoma City community and 47% are out-of-town guests. In all, over 170,000 hotel room nights are generated annually from events at the OKC Fairgrounds. The City of Oklahoma City receives over $13 million annually from sales tax revenue generated by OKC Fairgrounds events.
Since 2005, over $170 million worth of capital improvements have been completed at the OKC Fairgrounds. These improvements were funded through the Hotel Occupancy Tax and MAPS 3 dollars. The direct spending amount in 2005 was just over $244 million, therefore it’s evident that the improvements made to the property have allowed our economic impact to grow significantly. Certainly, money well spent.
We are very excited that a new Fairgrounds Coliseum was selected as one of the 16 MAPS 4 projects. The average lifespan of a public sport/event arena is between 30 and 40 years. The current Jim Norick Arena is over 55 years old and at the end of its usable service life. We need to replace the building on our terms, not the building’s. Designs for the new facility are approximately 55% complete and funds were recently allocated to complete the plans. We will be shovel-ready when the MAPS 4 project funds become available and prioritized by the MAPS 4 Citizens Advisory Board and the Oklahoma City Council. The new Fairgrounds Coliseum will be built adjacent to the existing Norick Arena so as not to disrupt any of our existing events.
The OKC Fairgrounds looks forward to the continued expansion of our exposition, educational and entertainment programming and facilities. To stay up-to-date on all OKC Fairgrounds activities, visit www.statefairparkokc.com, find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
J. Scott Munz
Senior Vice President Marketing & Sales