Building on that success is a key part of the MAPS 3 proposal that will go before Oklahoma City voters on Dec. 8. So it makes sense that the biggest ticket item is a $280 million convention center that will benefit locals and visitors alike. History helps explain the story.
When it was built in 1972, the Myriad Convention Center wasn’t so much a convention center as it was an arena with a few dozen meeting rooms around it. That was fine for a time, though the Myriad never did draw the convention business leaders desired.
So 20 years later, renovating and upgrading the center was important to helping the city lure more outsiders to town. The structurally outdated building proved expensive to upgrade, with a $63.1 million price tag. The plan worked. With a new wing of ballrooms and meeting space that totaled 100,000 new square feet, more and more conventions made their way to a city making a comeback.
While the upgrades were great for the city, other cities upped the convention ante. Many other cities in the region now have larger and better convention centers, according to a study commissioned by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. Consultants and local officials have warned that without a better center featuring the amenities now standard at competitors’ centers, the convention business that brings $121 million a year to Oklahoma City will begin moving backward.