(Scroll down to watch the presentation of the study done on OKC's visitor industry revealing the need for a new convention center.)
Any city's convention center should be one of its economic engines. While our convention business is thriving, our potential is much greater. In fact, we are currently missing out on valuable economic benefits from visitors spending money in our city due to our inadequate facilities. We are unable to land conventions and meetings that want to come here and bring all of their tourist dollars with them because we cannot accommodate their needs (our current facility is smaller than Tulsa's, Wichita's, or Omaha's, and we lack sufficient loading dock space, ceiling heights, etc.). The new convention center will change that. It will put us in a competitive position with cities like Charlotte and Indianapolis, as well as being better able to change visitors' perceptions and impressions of our city to a positive one. This is very important to enhancing our overall economic development efforts.
In addition, many of our citizens like to enjoy Bricktown and other entertainment locations throughout the city. The continued growth and health of our city's entertainment options are highly dependent on convention visitors -- visitors we will continue to attract only with new, larger, better-equipped and more efficient facilities.
According to an analysis by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International, a new convention center would bring a total direct annual economic impact of $78 million, almost triple what we have today. It would employ 1,121, creating 709 NEW jobs. It would increase direct spending by visitors in the city and would improve direct air service options to and from Oklahoma City. All of these benefits - more jobs, increased tax revenue, more air service, better image enhancement, and more - will not be realized by our citizens if the new MAPS proposals are not passed.
The simple fact is, our city needs a new convention center. One of the unique aspects of MAPS is that all building is done without incurring debt. As such, it is likely 10 to 12 years from passage of this proposal before a new convention center will open. Given that necessary lead time, the current convention center, which originally opened as the Myriad in 1972, will be almost 50 years old. It is hard to argue with the fact that a city should have a new convention center every 50 years.
The convention center site adjacent to the Park is simply proposed. A final decision on the location would be made only after additional site evaluation and public input.
Watch the presentation of the OKC Visitor Industry study revealing the need for a new convention facility in OKC
Cost: $280 million
Description: This project is a new convention center to replace the Cox Business Services Convention Center. The new convention center will include exhibit halls, meeting rooms, ballrooms, mixed uses, and parking.
The Cox Business Services Convention Center is already inadequate in terms of size and amenities, and will be nearly half-a-century old by the time a new convention center could open.
A study commissioned by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce showed that superior convention center facilities in neighboring cities and states are beginning to erode the $1.2 billion that enters the Oklahoma City community each year from visitors, and that soon, the Cox Center will be unable to compete.
The tourism industry is responsible for thousands of jobs in Oklahoma City.
Visitors also help to improve the quality of life for residents by creating a better market to attract direct flights and unique retail.