By Richard Clark and Scott Thompson, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Baseball comes to downtown Tulsa and it is probably a lot sooner than most thought. The ink on the deal is barely dry, yet, the City of Tulsa broke ground for the new Drillers Stadium on Friday.
The city has two reasons for building the stadium as quickly as possible. One is a promise it made to the Drillers. The other is the need to keep up downtown's momentum.
"This really jumpstarts this downtown continued revitalization," said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor.
Mayor Kathy Taylor says there's an urgent need to get the stadium built. That's why the site is already cleared and the heavy equipment is already in place. The mayor says one reason is contractual. As part of the deal with the team, the city promised to have the stadium ready for the 2010 baseball season.
But, Mayor Taylor says another reason is cashing in on the momentum begun by the BOK Center.
"It's a bookend to the BOK Center, but this provides a true family entertainment option downtown and that's really something we're lacking right now," said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor.
Representatives from the Greenwood District also expect the ballpark to do great things for the area. It's because the plans include the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, a memorial to the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot.
"That in itself we think is a draw for the area, but in combination with the development of the ballpark, we think it's going to become a national point of destination," said Reuben Gant with the Greenwood District.
Stan Lybarger, the CEO of the Bank of Oklahoma, is also chairman of the trust that's overseeing the stadium's construction. He's not bothered by people who question the project.
"As you may recall around the time of the BOK Center, there was lots of discussion about whether the BOK Center made sense, and whether it should be downtown or not, but you can't find the people who raised those questions now. They're all happy with the outcome and think it's the greatest that's happened to Tulsa," said Bank of Oklahoma CEO Stan Lybarger.
You should start seeing the framework of the grandstand rise out of the ground, by next summer.
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