Progress report on Tulsa's new downtown arena

Friday, January 27th 2006, 6:13 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa's "Vision" is coming into focus. There is now enough construction done on the downtown arena that we can get see how it will look.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan took a tour of the site on Thursday.

Over the last week, architects and designers and city inspectors have looked over all these details. They check the measurements, and mark the problems in red. At the arena site, the walls are going up - but they're just the walls of the basement.

The walls going up are retaining walls on the southeast side. They outline the bottom of the bowl, which even though it's huge, is actually the smallest part of the building. Bart Boatright: "So if you had a basement in your house this is what you'd see in the perimeter of it, except these are 18" thick."

Just to give you some perspective of just how big the building will be, we were taken to the basement level of the arena. The piers that will support it and the whole building will rise from the basement area.

The project's manager says it's on schedule with no weather delays so far. The mayor says it's on budget too. Tulsa mayor Bill LaFortune: "It points to progress and that Tulsa is on the right track."

From what will be the floor of the arena, rebar rises for the support structure. As construction progresses, more foundation walls will go up and the footprint of the building will expand, but as it is now, the basic elevation of the arena is in place, and the work goes up from the basement. Bart Boatright: "You'll see seating coming off those walls all the way down that will be raked out into a bowl feel and you'll look up and right here will be your roof, 95 to 100 feet above you."

Several huge construction contracts for the arena go out for bid in a couple of weeks. Right now there are 70 people working at the arena site, more will come on as construction moves into high gear.