Tuesday, October 3rd 2023, 10:10 pm
A group with the Tulsa Regional Chamber is in Austin, Texas, to learn from one of the nation's fastest-growing cities.
Austin, Texas is home to some giant companies, like Dell Computer and Tesla. Though Tesla looked at Tulsa, they instead started building in Texas, and successes like that are part of the reason the Tulsa Regional Chamber is here to find out more about landing a giant company and what to do next.
“I’ve never been more excited about Austin’s future than I am right now,” said Gary Farmer with Opportunity Austin.
Tuesday morning, the Chamber members heard from Gary Farmer about how, 20 years ago, Austin and towns in the region started working together to have the land and workforce available to handle some of the large companies they were after.
It worked, and now the skyline of Austin is growing, and so is the population - especially young, educated workers.
“They’ve been amazingly successful in attracting talent,” said Mike Neal. “Austin leads the nation in recruiting college degreed individuals to come and work for these amazing companies they’ve recruited. You don’t attract good companies unless you have the workforce.”
That’s driving the economy, paying for public infrastructure, and bringing in more people.
“We’re excited about the other developments coming to Jenks and other places in our region, and we know it’s going to bring people in to get to know everything that’s great in Jenks America and beyond,” said Heather Turner, the Jenks Chamber CEO.
The group paid a visit to a very successful new arena in Austin that’s smaller than the BOK but much busier.
The new management group for the BOK Center has plans to book more events as they’ve done with an arena they operate in Austin, Texas.
This arena in Austin, the Moody Center, is operated by the company that has just taken over the job at the BOK Center.
They showed Tulsa leaders Tuesday what they’ve done here to attract more events and get higher prices for premium seats.
Austin welcomed the group from Tulsa, about 100 business and political leaders, who saw the Tulsa Flag really close to a longhorn. This new arena is on the University of Texas campus, close to students, but it’s the corporate and celebrity suites that make it so profitable.
This drawing is the arena design by actor Matthew McConaughey, who also guided plans for the suites that get top dollar for an arena. Other celebrity influencers are reworking club-style concession areas because that, too, increases ticket sales.
“There’s a huge interest in premium seating,” said Jeff Nickler.
Jeff Nickler, a veteran of Tulsa’s BOK Center, now works here, where companies pay top dollar to buy suites.
The Tulsa Regional Chamber is happy the same management group is now working in Tulsa.
“What are other type of things we can bring into the BOK Center in addition to what’s there now?” Mike Neal said. “I think the BOK Center is far more successful in Tulsa than anyone imagined it could be, but what can we do to boost it even more?”
In Austin, the Moody Center is one part of the live music economy that the Tulsa Chamber hopes to build up back home.
Tulsa has a professional soccer club without a stadium built just for them. But having 100 of Tulsa’s business and political leaders in Austin to tour their pro stadium could be an important step in changing that.
The Q2 stadium is an outdoor, partially shaded soccer pitch for Austin FC, and an all-purpose entertainment venue. It sells out for games, with almost 500,000 tickets sold in the first year.
The Tulsa group was particularly interested in seeing it. Most in the tour group from Tulsa had never seen a professional soccer stadium.
“Pretty exciting to think about this is a regional team and something available to Oklahomans as well,” said Becky Fields with MidFirst Private Bank.
This home stadium for Austin is now a model of modern stadium construction. Tulsa is just one of the cities taking a look.
“With FC Tulsa looking and hoping to expand their presence in Tulsa, it’s exciting to think about what the possibilities might be in our city,” said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum.
The Mayor is certain Tulsa is moving in that direction, and so are others on the delegation.
“And just the growing soccer community in Tulsa, just to have something like this we could all unite and be proud of, it would be amazing,” said Jesse Guardiola with Tulsa United Way.
The two year stadium created a home for major league sports in Austin, which could be the model of how Tulsa could become a major league city as well.
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