Many civic leaders are quite capable of dreaming up fantastic reinventions of their cities — but Oklahoma City's transformation is far from routine.
Twenty years ago, a populace that had a terrible track record of approving tax increases to improve public infrastructure approved a radical idea of a five-year, penny sales tax that would act as a much-needed adrenaline shot.
On one day, Dec. 14, 1993, voters committed to building a new downtown ballpark, an arena, a downtown library and a Bricktown Canal.
They agreed to fund a decades-long dream of restoring what was then known as the North Canadian River — a virtual drainage ditch — back into a waterway that would once again be a source of civic pride. They agreed to fund long-needed makeovers of the convention center, the Civic Center Music Hall and State Fair Park.
They dared to hope that by voting $3 million for a passenger rail operation, that matching federal funds could be secured to make that dream come true, as well.
The evidence of MAPS' impact on Oklahoma City is visible and undeniable. Newly assembled facts and figures, meanwhile, provide an even more surprising snapshot of the transformation's impact 20 years later.
Consider that the father of the MAPS initiative, former Mayor Ron Norick, optimistically predicted the ballot would produce investment of $140 million. As detailed today, the private investment that followed now exceeds $2 billion.