Redesigning downtown Tulsa with a new arena in mind

Wednesday, April 30th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Plans to revitalize downtown Tulsa could add jobs. News on Six reporter Emory Bryan says making Tulsa an exciting place to live does not look like an exciting process.

Its hours of meetings - in dark rooms - usually with a slide show. The vision talk this week is all about downtown. A couple of architect firms have big ideas for a new arena - and they say - many other cities have already done what Tulsa is still debating.

David Greusel, Architect: "I think with the size of the one you have now, an arena you are behind the curve look at a city like Des Moines which isn't any bigger than Tulsa, it's building a 16k seat arena next to a hundred thousand square foot convention center." The arena is likely to be the single most expensive item in the final plan.

A vision leadership team - the people around the table - will decide what makes the cut - but they say nothing is in - or out - yet. Bob Dick, Tulsa County Commissioner: “We are in the business now of having presentations from those we think have some real merit to them.” And most support a new arena in downtown Tulsa. Even though the mayor would like arena near the river, the experts say an arena needs to be closer to the existing convention center. The idea is to build a park from the convention center that goes around the post office, and then to build an arena nearby.

It's a big part of the project, around $100 million. The total package - whatever it includes - will cost around $700 million. There are still more meetings and more presentations - but the vision teams wants to put it to a vote this fall. And that vote would be on a tax to pay for it all.

The vision team will decide what makes cut in about a month. The mayor has said an arena - and major development along the river - are two elements certain to be included.