New Convention Center on schedule, under budget

Published Wednesday, September 9, 2020
by Justin Tinder

As Oklahoma City prepares to roll out the red carpet and welcome larger business and event groups than ever before, city officials will look to have the keys to the new expansive Oklahoma City Convention Center by year’s end.

David Todd, MAPS Program Manager, said the project continues to go well and remains under budget. Contractors have to reach “substantial completion” by Oct. 7 before handing over keys to city officials.

“It’s a beautiful building. It’s no longer a square, brown, windowless box. We’re excited to be reaching the end,” Todd said. “This is the largest single construction project in OKC’s history–bigger than the Bricktown Ballpark and Chesapeake Arena combined.”

The $288 million project began in June 2018 along the east side of Robinson Boulevard, between SW Fourth and SW Seventh streets, across from the 70-acre Scissortail Park. The site is also next to the 605-room Omni hotel where construction continues on schedule before its planned opening early next year.

“We will do our walkthrough after Oct. 7. We will look for things that need corrected, fixed, or changed. We will develop a punch list for the contractor to make the modifications. They have 60 days to fix things before we consider it final. Then it will be city-owned and operated.”

During that time ASM Global, the venue and event management team selected by the city, will take occupancy and begin setting up their operations to manage the building.

The convention center will feature a 200,000-square-foot exhibit hall that can subdivide into up to four flexible spaces. An additional 45,000 square feet of meeting space can provide 27 individual meeting rooms. On the fourth level, a 30,000-square-foot ballroom contains 10,000 square feet of pre-function space and a 4,000-square-foot balcony. The facility will also include informal meeting spaces, a kitchen, a potential café space, a loading dock and administrative offices.

The angular facade with its glass walls should maximize the use of natural light. The landscaping will use native plants and trees suited to the local climate. A skywalk will connect to a new parking garage.

At the two main entrances in the building’s front, installation of programmable color-changing LED rods are being hung at the atrium ceiling.

“It puts me in mind of a gigantic wind chime,” Todd said. “It will compliment Skydance Bridge and other LED lighting in the park and on the outside of the building itself.”

The $241 million Omni hotel under construction next to the convention center contains 605 guest rooms and 29 suites, a spa, a fitness center, a pool deck with bar and grill, and multiple dining options. Its projected opening will coincide with the convention center.

The additions of these two venues have the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau rapidly booking events into the venue with the hope of the COVID-19 impact lessening in 2021.

Mike Carrier, president of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, said his group has booked over 49,000 room nights which would create more than $30 million in direct economic impact from convention center bookings. In total, the CVB has over 660,000 room nights of prospective business in the works for Oklahoma City-area hotels through 2026.

This article originally appeared in the September 2020 edition of The Point.

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