Ron Norick remembers being relieved and excited 19 years ago Friday when he learned Oklahoma City voters had approved the original MAPS tax.
But it didn't take long for the realization to sink in that it was already time for the city to collectively roll up its sleeves and get to work.
“It was kind of like the dog chasing the car. Now what do I do with it?” Norick, who was Oklahoma City's mayor on Dec. 14, 1993, recalled Friday. “It was kind of one of those moments.”
Norick will be part of a series of celebrations planned in 2013 to honor the 20th anniversary of the MAPS tax, which is universally recognized as the start of Oklahoma City's ongoing renaissance.
Next year's Oklahoma City Holiday River parade is one event sure to be part of the celebration, said Mike McAuliffe, who was Norick's chief of staff in 1993 and is now CEO of OKC Events. McAuliffe will help organize the events, with support from the city, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and a number of other local organizations.
The 20th anniversary celebration will be incorporated into events involving everything that was a part of the original MAPS project, likely along with a cornerstone event to mark next Dec. 14.
“If you look at the things that have happened in this city, that vote on Dec. 14, 1993, was a major turning point,” McAuliffe said.
The original MAPS projects included the athletics venues now called Chesapeake Energy Arena and Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, the Bricktown Canal, the Oklahoma River, the downtown library named for Norick and renovations to the Civic Center Music Hall and Cox Convention Center.
The penny sales tax resulted in a collection of $309 million, plus $54 million in interest subsequently earned by the city. The pay-as-you-go program is widely considered to be revolutionary among American civic leaders, and it was continued on to fund MAPS for Kids, the ongoing Chesapeake Energy Arena renovations and MAPS 3.
“What it did for the city was more than bricks and mortar. What it did was change the attitude of the city,” Norick said. “It went from a city that was not known for anything, not doing well financially, people moving to the suburbs, nothing positive was really happening, and all of a sudden something gave the people a positive attitude. It really bleeds over into today.”