When it comes to the Boathouse District on the Oklahoma River, Mike Knopp, executive director of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundations, thinks big. Already a world-class venue for competitive rowing and kayaking, the Boathouse District may soon become one of the best venues in the world as MAPS 3 river enhancement projects get under way in the near future. “We will have things here that are not present anywhere in the world,” Knopp said. But it’s not just about rowing, Knopp said. No other city in the world will be able to offer outdoor adventures like Oklahoma City will be able to on the Oklahoma River once the projects are completed, he said. “It goes far beyond rowing,” Knopp said. “It’s the collection of everything. In my opinion, it will be the envy of every city looking to bring urban outdoor adventure to their downtown area.” Oklahoma City is setting an example for other cities in the country, said Joe Jacobi, chief executive officer of USA Canoe/Kayak, which moved its national headquarters to the Boathouse District in December. “The things that are happening here are becoming a blueprint for what is happening in other places as well,” Jacobi said. Oklahoma City University already has a boathouse on the river. In the next three years, the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma are expected to build boathouses. More racecourse improvements are scheduled in the next three years, such as a new pneumatic starting gate system to ensure simultaneous race starts, critical during very close, very fast races. The gates are the same as the ones to be used at the upcoming London Olympics. The Oklahoma River will be the only venue in the country to have these gates, thus attracting more national and international races. Other improvements planned over the next three years include more specialty lighting and more sound equipment to improve the experience for spectators. A white water center should open in late 2014 or early 2015. The course will be designed to accommodate recreational rafting, tubing, hydro sled, swift water rescue, slalom and freestyle kayaking. It will be one of three courses in the United States and the only one not on the East Coast.
AT A GLANCE