Conference Realignment Could Have Economic Impact On Tulsa Fans And Businesses

Tuesday, September 20th 2011, 12:19 am
By: News On 6

Ashli Sims, News on 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- University of Oklahoma's President David Boren insists a possible conference switch isn't about the money. But leaving the Big 12 could cost football fans, and even have an economic impact on the city of Tulsa.

It's not just the plays on the field, but the power plays off the gridiron that have captured national attention.

"I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone in Oklahoma who's not keeping an eye on it right now," said Sheila Curley, Tulsa Sports Commission.

OU and likely OSU could decide to make a conference switch abandoning the Big 12. That could put Tulsa out of position for landing some major sporting events.

"The way the Big 12 conference is set up right now, Tulsa is in a central location to be able to recruit all of the cities in the north and south to come to a central location for a tournament," Curley said.

Curley said business leaders were marketing Tulsa venues like the BOK Arena and ONEOK field for Big 12 basketball and baseball tournaments. Luring those games to Tulsa could mean big dollars.

"Depending on how these conferences realign. The ability to recruit some of those conference tournaments here... Tulsa may not be centrally located anymore," Curley said.

The potential economic impact of a Big 12 without Oklahoma prompted four Texas business leaders to put in their two cents.

The owner of the Astros, Spurs, a former Texas governor and a former mayor are all pushing in this full-page newspaper ad to keep the Big 12 as is.

Mitchell Clary, OU Graduate, is concerned about the economic impact on fans.

"If you want to get on the highway you can drive to Lawrence, KS or go down to Waco and watch a game and get back. Going out to the West Coast is a different story," Clary said.

In the Big 12, the farthest fans would have to travel is five hundred miles about to Ames, Iowa.

If the Sooners and the Cowboys became part of a new Pac-16, the longest away trip would be to Seattle, Washington, which is more than 2000 miles away.

We did check a discount travel website and you can fly to Seattle cheaper than you can fly to Des Moines, Iowa. But fans would have to log a lot more frequent flyer miles to keep up with the Sooners and the Cowboys, if they ended up in a new super Pac-16.

9/19/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Big 12 Fans React To Conference Realignment

9/19/2011 Related Story: OU Board Of Regents Gives David Boren Power To Change Conferences