In recent years, Oklahoma City has become a popular destination for intercity visits from other communities who want to study our revitalization. Not surprisingly, one of the most common topics of discussion is the Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS) program and its ongoing impact on the community. Every time I have the chance to share the story of MAPS with another group, I am reminded of the clear shift in momentum when the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark was the first MAPS project to open in 1998. It was a game changer, no pun intended, to the levels of confidence that this community felt about its vote five years earlier. People saw that Oklahoma City’s audacity to dream big was going to pay off.
This time around, MAPS 3 projects across the city are well underway, and the permanent race course lighting on the Oklahoma River and the miles of MAPS 3-funded trails and sidewalks are in use. We also know how much the MAPS projects have shaped the development of Oklahoma City, with nearly $5 billion in economic impact attributed to the original MAPS program. In May, Oklahoma City will celebrate the grand opening of the MAPS 3 whitewater center – RIVERSPORT Rapids – which will elevate the programming at the Oklahoma River to set-apart levels. In 2016, we will also see tangible progress on the senior health and wellness centers and on the modern streetcar. Because of the choice you made in 2009 to invest in Oklahoma City and its future, we are going to look back on this year and see it as the time frame that kicked our momentum into high gear. So congratulate yourselves for making the right decision in 2009, and know that the rewards of that decision will be far-reaching. Job well done.