Oklahoma City's revival tale needs proper retelling

When attention is focused on Oklahoma City's revival, it's not uncommon for people to get the facts wrong. An example is which came first: MAPS or the Murrah Building bombing. (MAPS came first.)
by Steve Lackmeyer Published: May 17, 2011
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Five years ago I asked several local respected leaders in the public relations and advertising community about the potential value of publicity gained through the city's temporary hosting of the NBA's New Orleans Hornets.

They estimated at the time the city would have spent $8 million to launch a similar publicity campaign.

Consider that the team brought Oklahoma City quite a few favorable stories in national publications, but no nationally televised games and nothing comparable to the city's exposure with the Thunder as the team plows through the 2011 playoffs.

Last week alone, Oklahoma City was featured in an eight-minute segment on ESPN's “Outside the Lines.” The show's premise — how an early visit by Thunder star Kevin Durant set him on a mission to change the perception of Oklahoma City — was gratifying in that he sees the importance of going beyond the April 19, 1995, bombing. But it also stuck so closely to that topic that it repeated an often-made mistake — that the bombing somehow inspired the city's Metropolitan Area Projects initiatives and, in turn, the downtown revival we're still enjoying.

This is historical revisionism that is committed all too often (the same mistake was made by a speaker at a recent gathering of the city's Rotary Club 29).

So let's start with the facts: MAPS was passed by voters in 1993. The bombing occurred two years later.

Mass murderer Timothy McVeigh did not force, inspire or motivate this city to invest in itself and launch an unprecedented urban makeover. That decision had already been made by a community determined to battle national slurs against Oklahoma City as being dry, boring or, worse, not even worth a discussion.

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by Steve Lackmeyer
Business Reporter
Steve Lackmeyer is a reporter and columnist who started his career at The Oklahoman in 1990. Since then, he has won numerous awards for his coverage, which included the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the city's Metropolitan...
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