The Tulsa Sports Commission has announced that the Big 12 Wrestling Championships will be held in Tulsa in coming years. Officials say the tournament will come to the BOK Center in 2017 and 2018 and a one- to three-year extension is possible.
The commission says the event will bring in more than 5,000 people each year and have an impact of $1.3 million.
“The city and sports commission have shown a commitment to bringing Big 12 events to Tulsa and have a strong interest in the sport of wrestling,” conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby said.
From youth to collegiate competitions, the state of Oklahoma has a healthy wrestling legacy with a large fan base. The Big 12 conference and its predecessors lay claim to many national titleholders. Organizers say that Oklahoma State University Hall of Famer John Smith, as well as OSU’s athletic director and others were instrumental in advocating for the championships to come to downtown Tulsa.
The Big 12 wrestling championships will expand to a two-day event with a 10-team field in 2016 as athletes wrestle for a spot in the NCAA Championships and a chance to earn a national title.
By next year, Big 12 schools OSU, Iowa State, Oklahoma and West Virginia will be joined by wrestling affiliate members Wyoming, Air Force, Northern Colorado, North Dakota State and Utah Valley.
For the last 18 years, the conference championship was held on campuses within the league, but in 2016, it moves to Kansas City’s Spirit Center, then on to Tulsa for at least the next two years.
“I am excited that our collective effort to continue to host Big 12 Conference events in Tulsa has been fruitful,” Tulsa Sports Commission Executive Director Vince Trinidad said.
Support from SMG and the BOK Center as well as the community “proved that Tulsa is currently and will continue to be an ideal sports destination,” he said.
Big 12 Associate Commissioner Bob Burda said Tulsa is an easy fit for the event.
"The passion for wrestling and the success of wrestling here in the program, that's a tough combination and there aren't many cities able to put together the whole wrestling package the way Tulsa can," he said.