Construction underway on MAPS 3 Convention Center
On Friday, June 15, Oklahoma City officials broke ground on the MAPS 3 Convention Center, launching a new era for the MAPS 3 projects and Oklahoma City’s Core-to-Shore redevelopment. This state-of-the-art, $288 million project is expected to be complete in 2020, and its groundbreaking means that all MAPS 3 projects are either complete or currently under construction.
“Three of the MAPS 3 projects are right in the heart of downtown – the OKC Streetcar, Scissortail Park and the convention center,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. “With today’s groundbreaking, construction is underway on all three and dreams are becoming reality. As much as everyone talks about how far our downtown has come, the opening of these three projects will dramatically alter our city within the next two years.”
Oklahoma City voters approved the convention center as part of the MAPS 3 projects on Dec. 13, 2009, but the idea was born earlier when the relocation of Interstate 40 and added more than 1,000 acres of space to downtown Oklahoma City. City leaders then began to dream of development possibilities, and a convention center that would allow for Oklahoma City to compete for more high-economic-impact events was one of them.
“The opportunity to redevelop a large area this close to downtown is incredibly rare,” said Oklahoma City Ward 6 Councilwoman Meg Salyer. “As I travel around the country and tell people what we are doing, people are shocked that we have the opportunity to drop a 70-acre park and build a brand-new convention center right in the heart of our downtown. It’s transformative in so many ways that it is hard to describe.”
“The dynamic environment we are creating sends a clear message about our City and provides something for both our residents and our guests of which we can all be incredibly proud to enjoy.”
--Roy Williams, President & CEO, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
While Oklahoma City already hosts events in the Cox Convention Center, an almost 50-year-old facility, the space limitations and outdated elements of the existing convention center prevented Oklahoma City from competing for about half of the events held in the United States each year. Now, the MAPS 3 convention center will allow Oklahoma City to compete for 80 percent or more of those events. And according to Mike Carrier, president of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, this is the only new convention center under construction in the United States right now—a fact that has already drawn the attention of meeting planners from around the country.
“When people are here for a convention, a meeting or some other special event held in that city, their impression of Oklahoma City may change their mind about looking at Oklahoma City as a possible future opportunity for them,” said Carrier.
Roy Williams, president and CEO of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, agreed that the hospitality industry—especially hosting large-scale meetings and events—plays a vital role in changing outdated perceptions of Oklahoma City.
“In a world where people rely on word of mouth and the advice and experience of friends, we will change the image of our community by graciously hosting our guests in this magnificent facility and sending them back into the world as new ambassadors of all our community has to offer,” Williams said. “The dynamic environment we are creating sends a clear message about our City and provides something for both our residents and our guests of which we can all be incredibly proud to enjoy.”
The building will be located east of Scissortail Park along Robinson Boulevard between SW 4th and SW 7th streets. Like the park and many other important landmarks downtown, it will be served by the MAPS 3 OKC Streetcar.
The convention center’s sleek and modern design features sweeping downtown views, and materials designed for energy efficiency and resiliency against the weather. A 200,000-square-foot exhibit hall and about 45,000 square feet of meeting spaces will allow multiple events to take place simultaneously, Carrier said. The design also calls for a 30,000-square-foot ballroom, 10,000 square feet of pre-function space and a 4,000-square-foot balcony overlooking the MAPS 3 Scissortail Park.
The MAPS 3 Convention Center’s total project budget of $288 million, including land acquisition and other related expenses, is the biggest in City history for a single project. The construction contract is $168.2 million, $20 million under budget.
While the convention center is most often associated with vistor-centric events, MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board Chairman Tom McDaniel commented that many important events in the lives of Oklahoma City residents will take place in the facility as well.
“It’s always amazing to me how many graduations and how many events that our citizens use our convention center for, and I think it’s going to be well used by our community for decades to come,” McDaniel said.