By Chris Wright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Downtown Tulsa's field of dreams gets a new name. A Tulsa company paid $5 million dollars to have its name attached to the ballpark. They just broke ground at the corner of Elgin and Archer a few weeks ago. But, from now on, this new stadium will be called ONEOK Field.
The Drillers have been intent on moving downtown since last summer, but they never intended on taking the name Drillers Stadium with them. The new name was safely guarded until Monday afternoon, when the suspense was quickly ended at the start of a news conference.
"I'm happy to announce that the Tulsa Drillers ballpark, ONEOK Field will be a reality right next door," said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor.
Related story: 12/19/2008 Ground Broken For Downtown Drillers Ballpark
The Drillers say they were looking for a company committed to downtown revitalization. ONEOK has been in Oklahoma since its inception in the early 20th century, and has been headquartered downtown since the 1920's.
"It went both ways very well. They have commitment to downtown Tulsa, and we're excited about being down here," said Drillers Owner Chuck Lamson.
In exchange for the naming rights, ONEOK donated $5 million to the stadium trust in charge of building the stadium. Of the funds, $1 million came from the company, the other $4 million from its charitable foundation.
ONEOK says the ballpark will also help the company accomplish its goals.
"What we believe is that a vibrant downtown creates an atmosphere that our employees like to work. We're not going to be successful if we don't have employees that we need to be successful," said ONEOK CEO John Gibson.
With the naming rights in place, the team says it can now focus on the task at hand: finishing ONEOK Field before Opening Day next year.
"We've got a lot of work to do between now and 2010, but we're ready to do it, and ready to get after it, and looking forward to it," said Drillers Owner Chuck Lamson.
The Drillers say the $5 million will be used help cover construction costs. The project is expected to cost as much as $60 million.