It would also be more convenient for those using the building by including things such as fiber optics, electrical wiring, Internet connectivity and compressed air in the floor, which could be easily accessed by exhibitors.
In addition to serving as a community center for luncheons, banquets, graduations and other events, Williams said there will be some bells and whistles.
"Sort of the new paradigm of the convention center is that it’s much more inviting to the citizens,” Williams said. "It has amenities such as retail shops, cafes, coffee shops, other kinds of things that local residents would want to patronize.”
Convention center arms race?
Several national studies question what has become an arms race between major cities to see who can build the biggest and best convention centers.
A 2005 study by Heywood Sanders of the Brookings Institution said convention business is declining nationally, with attendance at the 200 largest trade shows at 1993 levels.
Since then, the situation has only gotten worse, said Sanders, a public administration professor at the University of Texas-San Antonio.
Sanders cautioned against promising voters vastly increased convention business.
He said many cities are using the same strategy as Oklahoma City when it comes to luring more business.
"I can go down the list of folks who say all we need is a bigger convention center and ‘this’ will happen,” Sanders said.
"There may be some people who succeed, but more often than not more convention center space yields essentially no more business.”
Williams said those numbers apply more to large cities.
"Our strategy is not to compete against New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, those cities that are going after the huge conventions,” Williams said. "Those are the conventions that are losing their size. That’s not our market. We are going after the medium-sized conventions and meetings that are still being attended. That market is strong and solid.”
Another factor in the city’s favor is that the area is a bit of a new player in the market.
As MAPS has raised the city’s profile, conventions are considering coming here for the first time, Williams said.
"We’re not selling the product we were selling 10 years ago,” Williams said. "Oklahoma City is a completely different destination. We are like a new product on the market. We’re not an old product with a new building.”
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