Tulsa Commerce Leaders Taking Cues From City's Music Scene

Saturday, September 5th 2015, 11:59 pm
By: News On 6

The Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce just wrapped up a three-day trip to Nashville for the 2015 intercity tour, and News On 6 tagged along.

A heavy focus this year is the Tulsa music scene and how to grow it by taking back some inspiration from Nashville. Chamber members said now is the time to take the momentum in Tulsa and push it to a higher level.

In 2008, construction began on the BOK Center in downtown Tulsa.

"We had a lot of naysayers that the BOK Center is never going to work, it’s going to be this albatross in downtown Tulsa, it is not going to work, and we are not going to get these major acts to Tulsa,” general manager Jeff Nickler said. “We've proved every single person wrong."

Seven years later, the BOK Center now is up for venue of the year by the International Entertainment Buyers Association. Cain's Ballroom just topped a global list for ticket sales and general manager Chad Rodgers is nominated for club buyer of the year.

Those are a few examples that the Tulsa music scene is on an undeniable upswing, a lot like Nashville 15-20 years ago.

9/2/2015 Related Story: Tulsa Boom Factory Kicks Off In Nashville

“Nashville didn't get where they are today by accident,” Nickler said. “It has taken years of planning, but I think Tulsa is on the cusp of something really great."

More than 100 Tulsa employees, business leaders and elected officials just returned from a three-day tour of Nashville.

Abby Kurin, the director of the city's office of film, music, arts and culture, learned Nashville took the approach of looking at music as business, which is similar to what her office has done in its first year of existence.

“People call us the next Austin or Nashville, but what I love about the conversations happening here are really we are who we are, so let’s capitalize on highlighting our strengths,” Kurin said.

And she wants to showcase those strengths, just like Nashville did over the years in its rise as one of the fastest growing destination cities in the United States.

“Music can drive an economic engine,” Nickler said. “It can provide value to bring music to our city and can create jobs, and that’s what people don’t realize.”

Officials will be using the next eight months to research how to brand Tulsa, similarly to what Nashville did with Music City.  What will the brand be?  Most think it will lean toward music and some of the historical elements, including Route 66.

9/3/2015 Related Story: Tulsa Leaders Getting New Ideas By Examining Nashville Growth