Influx Of Corporate Cash Promised For Tulsa's New BOK Arena

Wednesday, August 30th 2006, 10:06 am
By: News On 6

Some new corporate cash is pouring into Tulsa's downtown arena project. It's going to pay for improvements to the building that had been considered and rejected as too expensive.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says the project managers says the arena is about 25 percent done and should open in about two years. Some big companies are counting on it. They've decided to invest in the BOK Center.

The rights to the name on the BOK Center were sold long ago, but now more companies are buying into the project. They'll get prime advertising space and access to what will be the best seats in the house. Two big companies bought advertising rights inside the arena; another will be the exclusive rental car company. Each is paying more than a million dollars for the privilege.

A private foundation and five other companies are making outright donations to improve the BOK Center. But the firm which secured the money said the arena will not be turned into a giant billboard. Hamp Howell with Sports Facilities Marketing Group: “because of the architectural nature of this building, the Cesar Pelli design, we're not going to put signs on every inch of the building."

There is more corporate money in the pipeline - to buy up more advertising and luxury seats. The extra cash, beyond what's budgeted from taxes, will pay for upgrades that would otherwise be unaffordable, things like terrazzo floors instead of concrete, concealed lighting outside instead of plain street lights, and better materials for the sidewalks and plaza around the building.

Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor: "And it ensures we're going to have a world class events center."

The almost $16-million in corporate assistance for the building will have little impact on the physical structure of it, most of it is cosmetic work, the kind of improvements that might ensure this building is the icon it was intended to be.

One example is the $2-million from the Williams Companies that will pay for upgrades to the scoreboard. With a total cost of $3.5-million, it's going to have the latest video displays, with instant replay and be covered with Williams logos.

Negotiations continue with several other companies, who are close to pledging millions of new dollars for the arena beyond what was announced Wednesday.