Town and gown have come together with shovels and hardhats for several combo education-event centers in Oklahoma’s regional university towns.
It has added up to tens of millions of dollars in development — and new venues and civic pride — that neither the cities, local businesses nor the universities could afford on their own, said Susan Winchester, chairwoman of the Board of Regents of the Regional University System of Oklahoma.
Projects of note are:
Pioneer Cellular Event Center, a $24 million patnership between Southwestern Oklahoma State University and the city of Weatherford.
Northeastern State University Event Center, a $17.1 million partnership between Northeastern State University and the city of Tahlequah.
Harland Stonecipher School of Business and Chickasaw Business and Conference Center, a $14 million partnership between East Central University in Ada, the Stonecipher family, which founded Ada-based Preqaid Legal Services, and the Chickasaw Nation.
CHK/Central Boathouse, a $6.8 million partership between the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma City in the Boathouse District along the Oklahoma River.
Lesley L. Walls Vision Center, a $1 million partnership between Northeastern State University-Broken Arrow and local donors.
Each project connects with the community in a different way. In Weatherford and Tahlequah, each city gained an entertainment or sports venue. In Ada, the university connected with the Ada business community and Chickasaw Nation, which has its tribal headquarters in Ada.
In Oklahoma City, CHK/Central Boathouse, initially, in 2010, a civic project of Chesapeake Energy Corp., is scheduled to be complete by March 2015 with further funding from MidFirst Bank. It will be home to UCO’s women’s rowing team, a live music venue and art gallery.
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