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Oklahoma City is looking to Charlotte

by Steve Lackmeyer Published: October 7, 2008
Some of Oklahoma City’s most powerful folks are set to be airborne this morning as they head to Charlotte, N.C., to learn how the city was transformed two decades ago by construction of a skyscraper and the arrival of an NBA team.

Sure, there’s a lot more on the agenda — the city established light rail last year and has a good track record in conventions, tourism and water sports (all topics of interest here in Oklahoma City).

But it’s quite amazing to think where Charlotte was in 1988. The downtown skyline hadn’t changed in years when Wachovia opened its 588-foot-high headquarters — then the tallest in the state.

A second skyscraper was added in 1990, followed by yet an even taller 871-foot Bank of America tower in 1992. More than a half dozen skyscrapers have been added to the downtown Charlotte skyline in the past 20 years.

Major league sports
And then there’s the NBA. The Hornets got their start in Charlotte in 1988 and enjoyed a huge fan base until the team’s owner got crosswise with city leaders and the organization moved to New Orleans in 2002 (I think most of you know the rest of this story).

The NBA didn’t stay away for long, and now the city is home to NBA and NFL teams.

Other benchmarks
In the 1990s, Indianapolis was the benchmark for Oklahoma City.