It’s hardly exaggerating to say that Oklahoma City will soon be a brand-new city from a meetings perspective. Construction will begin next spring on a completely new convention center, set to open in 2020. The center will have 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 35,000-square-foot ballroom, and 50,000 square feet of additional space. Adjacent to the building will be a new 605-room convention center headquarter hotel from Omni Hotels & Resorts.
Directly west of the convention center will be a 70-acre, fully programmed park that will connect downtown OKC to the shores of the Oklahoma River. Construction is underway on a 40-acre section across from the center and will be completed in 2019, with the lower 30-acre portion set to open in 2021. The park will provide visitors with a variety of recreation activities, including concerts, walking/biking/running trails, picnic sites, youth sports fields, play areas, interactive water features, and outdoor education opportunities.
The park, convention center, and convention center headquarter hotel will all be linked to attractions, dining, and nightlife in districts around downtown by a new streetcar system. The entire 6-mile system should be operational by November 2018.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma City’s Boathouse District, home to the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site for canoe/kayak, was recently completed and opened in May 2016, along with its $45.2 million whitewater rafting and kayaking center. It’s the only urban rafting and kayaking course in the world and is walking distance from downtown hotels, OKC’s Bricktown Entertainment District, and the Cox Convention Center. Attendees can spend the day on the Oklahoma River enjoying a day filled with team-building activities, including canoeing, kayaking, ropes courses, zip-lining, and whitewater rafting.
With so many developments recently completed or opening soon, you can see why answers to the question “What’s new in Oklahoma City?” become a little long-winded. Oklahoma City has earned a bit of a reputation for these kinds of projects, with more than $5 billion of public and private investment in quality-of-life improvements over the past two decades. “New” is what we do around here, and the best is yet to come.