The decade ahead looks promising for Oklahoma City, a destination that (surprise!) has 300 days of sunshine per year and tons of history (for example, its National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum holds an internationally renowned collection of Western art and artifacts and has a 16,500-sq.-ft. events center). Thanks to the third phase of its $777 million Metropolitan Area Project, known as MAPS 3, the city is on its way to completing eight significant projects by the end of 2017. The projects are being funded by a 1 cent sales tax initiative that began in April 2010. The original MAPS began in 1993 and the program has generated more than $5 billion in public and private projects.
OKC BY THE NUMBERS:
Attendees at the largest food truck event
in America the last Friday of each month: 40,000
Area guest rooms: 16,000
Meeting space: 152,500 square feet
Meeting rooms: 21
For starters, a new $252 million convention center is currently in the concept stage, with construction expected to begin in 2016. The center will sit along Robinson Avenue downtown and include an elevated ballroom with city and park views, meeting space, entrances on all sides of the building and belowground exhibit halls and loading docks, with footbridges to Myriad Botanical Gardens and the future 70-acre Downtown Public Park, another MAPS 3 project. Also in the works is a modern streetcar system, improvements along the Oklahoma River and on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Fair, and new trails and sidewalks to make the city more walkable.
OKC QUICK FACTS:
Nearest airport: Will Rogers World
Convention center: Cox Convention Center
What’s new and coming soon to Oklahoma City? Construction continues on Downtown Public Park, which will have 70 acres of gardens, fountains, a great lawn facing a stage, a promenade and a lake. The $132 million project is scheduled to be completed in 2021. The 124-room Holiday Inn Express & Suites Oklahoma City Downtown – Bricktown opened in January, and the 195-suite Embassy Suites Oklahoma City Downtown/Medical Center opened in February.
Brickopolis, an entertainment center and restaurant in Bricktown, will open in spring; Topgolf Oklahoma City will open in summer; an 80,000-sq.-ft. Cabela’s will open in fall; and Riversport Rapids, a whitewater rafting and kayaking facility, is slated to open in 2016.