New Arena Could Bring In Big Names

Saturday, October 21st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

On November seventh, voters will be deciding on whether it's Tulsa's time.

One of the key pieces of the convention and tourism project is a 110-million dollar arena.

Backers say it will bring in big time shows such as more concerts, ice skating acts and rodeos.

Promoters of the biggest bands in America say they will come to Tulsa, if the arena is built.

But, if people don't turn up in large numbers, the big acts won't be back.

Glenda Pickrell and Cathy Carpenter are spending the night at the convention center just to get first crack at Elton John tickets.

"All the big names, the closest they ever get to us is Oklahoma City or Texas. They never come to Tulsa," says Carpenter.

They're supporting a new arena so they’ll have more shots at big concerts.

100-million dollars for an arena are part of a 263-million dollar convention and tourism package, which includes a re-furbished convention center.

The leaders behind it say Tulsa is falling behind. A new arena, they say, would pull in acts like the Dixie Chicks, who recently played Oklahoma City.

Tulsa promoter Terry Harvey says the big acts don't want to play the old, 8-thousand seat convention center. He said it was tough to convince Boys to Men to come here on December 2nd.

"They look at Tulsa as a secondary market," says Harvey.

He says Boys to Men and Elton John have to leave much of their equipment behind to play the convention center. Harvey says if there is a new arena, every promoter in the country, promoting the biggest acts, will consider giving Tulsa a shot.

"You'll see great shows coming into the city, great shows. No doubt about it," says Harvey.

A spokesman for SFX, one of the largest concert promoters in the world, says if you build it, they will come.

He says the biggest acts will consider Tulsa, knowing Oklahoma City and the big Texas cities are nearby.

But, promoters say they will pull back and stop coming, unless they have a consistent crowd of at least 15-thousand.

"It's all about the economics, it's all about the money," says Harvey.

And that's what worries the opposition to the entire convention and tourism project. Opponents say other cities have built arenas that didn’t bring in the crowds and promoters are no longer interested.

The promoters say they have plenty of acts that can bring in 15-thousand people and will be here if Tulsans come to the show.