Oklahoma City’s popularity as a visitor destination continues to grow. Increased visitor traffic opens opportunities for further economic development, but it also has an incredible impact on the development of our city’s image. We have seen time and time again that once visitors come to our city, the majority of them depart with a positive perception. Our new, larger and more useful convention center will only increase the opportunities for us to get more visitors here.
In recent weeks, this particular MAPS 3 project has been at the forefront of discussion amongst residents, City Council, and the media. How much space do we need? Have we chosen the right location? What other infrastructure needs come along with a new center?
Asking questions is a good thing. It leads to careful examination of goals, and encourages great minds to collaborate to make a project the best it can be. But in the case of Oklahoma City’s convention center, we need to make sure we are asking the right questions.
The question of whether we need a new convention center was answered by the citizens when we voted yes. The next question should be, how do we build a convention center that meets both the needs of the convention center industry and our community?
The lessons learned by other cities are certainly helpful, but they don’t tell the whole story. Our goals should be based on what Oklahoma City’s market needs to be competitive. What configuration helps us to win more business in the markets where we compete. The real question should be how do we build a convention center that is large enough to meet the current demand, and with the opportunity for future expansion down the road?
Oklahoma City has always been a forward-thinking city. We say “yes” when others say “no”. Our city leadership makes promises, and they have delivered, successfully, on every promise made to voters. So the ultimate question is, what kind of a city do we want to be? I think we want to be the type of city that continues to grow, prosper and build the best city for our citizens and visitors. Our vision is to be the best Oklahoma City we can be, and so far that vision has served us well.