Is The BOK Center Spurring Downtown Business?

Tuesday, April 7th 2009, 10:19 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Thousands were drawn to downtown Tulsa to see the Boss.  But, are the big shows turning into big business for neighboring restaurants?

Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Elton John, they've all led to a feeding frenzy for downtown restaurants.  But the real question is does the interest end, when the concerts do?

The crowds started lining up hours before the arena doors were set to open with one name on their lips.

"We're here for The Boss. Bruce Springsteen. Of Course," said Chris Wilson from Oklahoma City.

"I'm super excited! I'm just gonna scream," said 6-year-old Riley Collett.

Big shows, like Bruce Springsteen, are definitely giving neighboring restaurants something to yell about.  The manager at SoChey says if you can see the crowd at the BOK Center from outside the restaurant, you can almost guarantee it's packed inside.

"Absolutely crowded, packed, mad house," said Julie Alumbaugh, SoChey manager.  "Every time there is a show, we are sold out. Two weeks in advance, actually."

And the BOK Center isn't the only venue with lines out the door.

"Very busy. Every time there is concert's across the street it's very busy," said Edith Rojas with Casa Laredo.

But, owner Edith Rojas says the crowds disappear when the concerts do.

"The only thing we don't have that often the concerts," said Edith Rojas.

She says more concerts would help.

"Of course. That's what we need. Because in the evening it's so slow here. Because people don't come downtown for dinners," said Edith Rojas with Casa Laredo.

Over at SoChey, they say they're starting to see the arena effect, even without the big-time headliners.

"It's carrying over. Because people come down and see that it's great ambience, the service is great, the food is good. And we have live music on Thursday, Friday, Saturdays. So, it's a great destination spot," said SoChey's Julie Alumbaugh.

Some BOK Center newcomers agree.

"We drove right to it. Traffic was great. No problems getting to it. It was really easy to get to.  Course you can see it from all over the city so that helps. I gotta tell you Tulsa is a beautiful city. It's a nicer city than Oklahoma City," said Oklahoma City's Chris Wilson.

Others would like to see more to do and places to dine closer to the concerts.

"But, it's all down there by McNellies it's further away," said Rob Evans.  "Some bars and restaurants right by the arena would be great."

And, more restaurants will reportedly be popping up.

The manager at SoChey says investors from Philadelphia have shown interest in developing downtown.