Yes, they came first and foremost because of the baseball, but still, you got the sense they came, too, because they wanted to be part of what was happening in Oklahoma City.
The ballpark created momentum that the city is still riding.
Because of the ballpark, Oklahoma City taxpayers were given peace of mind that city leaders would spend their money well, that local government could be trusted to make good decisions.
That was evident only a few months after the park opened. In late 1998, the city asked taxpayers to extend the MAPS tax for six months, in large part to pay for the downtown arena. Where the original MAPS tax passed five years earlier by only a few percentage points, the extension was approved in a landslide.
Fittingly, the MAPS folks had their election night party at the ballpark.
Maybe all of the MAPS projects that have been completed in the past two decades would've gotten done without the ballpark. Maybe we'd have all sorts of school upgrades around town and new businesses downtown and a world-class riverfront and an NBA team. Maybe the city would've been transformed anyway.
But the Bricktown Ballpark showed us what was possible.
A diamond indeed.