Plans In The Works To Improve Tulsa's 'Arena District'

Wednesday, October 24th 2018, 9:53 pm
By: Brian Dorman

Plans are in the works to create an entertainment district near the BOK Center and Cox Convention Center.

The BOK Center is a big draw for downtown, with approximately nine million visitors last year.

However, once you leave an event, there’s not much else in the area and people either struggle to find a place to hang out or they just go home.

9/26/2018 Related Story:  Tulsa's 'Arena District' Seeking Additional Development Ideas

“I think a lot of us would come more downtown if there was more for us to do at our age,” said Kyla Keith from Jenks.

“I’m an Uber driver, so a lot of times, I will pick people up from here and take them to Blue Dome or some place like that, or Cherry Street, or the casinos because there is nothing to do over here,” said Melissa Fair from Pryor.

Statements like these are concerning to Ray Hoyt, the President of Regional Tourism for Tulsa.

“We have to make sure that we build facilities that supports visitors staying longer, spending more money, residents actually engaging in the district, like they do at the Arts District and the Blue Dome,” said Hoyt.

Earlier this month, members of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and business community toured the arena district in Columbus, Ohio, for inspiration.

10/12/2018 Related Story:  Tulsa Looks To Columbus For City Development Inspiration

Hoyt was on that trip, seeing what the City of Columbus had done after spending 10 years developing its arena district.

Hoyt says everyone was excited to see the potential for that part of downtown Tulsa.

“They felt really engaged and energized by the fact a city kind of our size, Columbus, if they can do that, we can certainly do that,” he said.  “I think the momentum is kind of in our favor now.”

Ideas like developing parking space into hotels, condos, and chain restaurants.

“Imagine, over here in this parking lot, that we have another large entertainment building with multiple shops,” Hoyt said.  “This is a long-term plan.  This isn’t going to happen tomorrow.  This is a 10-year, 15-year plan.”

Other ideas include restructuring the federal building, which houses the courthouse and post office, or even replacing it, closing Third Street, and making it a pedestrian walkway; or adding green space, like Guthrie Green, with benches, water fountains, and a place to meet for lunch or throw a football around.