Some city officials caution that the MAPS 3 convention center may need to be built with expansion in mind.
BY CLIFTON ADCOCK
Members of a group overseeing progress of the future MAPS 3 convention center have expressed concern that budget constraints could cause the city to miss the mark on a key goal for the facility.
The proposed $252 million convention center was to elevate Oklahoma City from a lower Tier 3 convention site to a higher Tier 2 site, said Roy Williams, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber CEO and MAPS 3 convention center subcommittee board member.
However, funding from the MAPS 3 sales tax may not be enough to pay for a convention center that would bump the city up to Tier 2 status, said Mike Carrier, president of the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau and a subcommittee member.
Convention center subcommittee members were frustrated last year when told that of the $280 million in MAPS 3 funds set aside for the convention center, $30 million of it would pay for relocating an OGE substation near a proposed site for the facility.
The subcommittee recommended a different location, and the question of what to do with the $30 million intended for the OGE substation removal went to the City Council. Council members voted to put the money in an infrastructure/contingency fund, leaving around $250 million for the convention center.
At the convention center subcommittee’s June 26 meeting, Williams said the original study identifying what it would take to elevate OKC to a Tier 2 site, would be at least 200,000 square feet of exhibit space and 35,000 square feet of ballroom space, as well as more meeting spaces.
above The center’s planned site
This budget probably will not get us where we would like.
Carrier suggested that list of recommendations for a future consultant be amended to characterize the recommendations as guidelines, not requirements, and to give the consultant room to design the building to allow for future expansions.
“[This budget] probably will not get us where we would like to be,” he told the subcommittee. “I think that’s the reason we expressed concern in the way [the recommendations were] written to make sure [consultants] have the flexibility to maximize space and get as much as possible — square-foot-wise — at a level to compete with Tier 2 cities.”
Even if the square footage does not meet the study’s recommendations, said Carrier, it still will draw bigger conventions.
“It’s a big step in the right direction,” he said.