Study reports up to $400 million needed for new convention center in Oklahoma City

BY STEVE LACKMEYER - Business Writer Modified: March 10, 2009 at 1:58 pm •  Published: March 10, 2009
It looks at the total component of visitor attractions.”

Williams quoted the consultants as advising Oklahoma City is assured increased business if it builds a new convention center.

“There is an element out there who questions should we really try to do something more,” Williams said. “Part of that is cultural — are we good enough, big enough, savvy enough to step out there on the edge? The best consultants in the U.S. say ‘You sure are. You have the product. When you did MAPS, you built a new city and created a new experience, a unique product.’ But it’s not something you can leave alone, you have to improve it.”

Williams said the consultants reported the city is exceeding visitors’ expectations, but is failing to attract many convention planners who won’t even consider the city due to its inadequate facilities.

John Kaatz, author of the study, reported the city’s convention center’s exhibit space is the smallest offered among more than a dozen competing cities including Tulsa, Fort Worth, Texas, and Austin, Texas. He said planners who had been to the city gave it a very favorable rating, but 41 percent of them added they will need more space for future meetings than what is offered at the Cox Convention Center.

Kaatz said improvements done in 1999 as part of MAPS simply aren’t sufficient.

“The expansion in 1999 created modern meeting space at the front of the building, but there is something of a time portal when you go into the exhibit space,” Kaatz said. “Meeting planners today expect the whole package.”

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Read the executive summary of the convention center study

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