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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Get involved!

State Fair Expo Building

Did you ever wonder what it takes to put on a world-class fair such as that in OKC? The Oklahoma State Fair is rich in history and heritage and is ranked among the top State Fairs in North America. But the fun family event wouldn’t be possible without dedicated volunteers working behind the scenes to ensure its success. If you are interested in having loads of fun with a great group consider volunteering. In addition to the State Fair, volunteers get together for other fun and educational opportunities throughout the year including socials and dinners. While the State Fair brings thousands of thrill seekers and game lovers to the fairgrounds each year, hundreds of other events are hosted at the site as well. With the coming addition of the MAPS 3 Bennett Event Center, the number of ways you can have a good time at Oklahoma State Fair Park is expected to grow exponentially.

MAPS, State Fair Park, volunteer
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Boathouse District

Kayak in the Riversport Rapids

Maybe no district mirrors Oklahoma City’s modern-day renaissance like the Boathouse District. A little more than two decades ago the Oklahoma River was a local joke that had to be routinely mowed (it wasn’t exactly flowing with water). Thanks to investment from the local citizens through MAPS the river now is a hotbed of activity, features multiple boathouses and is a U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Site year-round.

Just last month the one-of-a-kind RIVERSPORT Rapids opened. The project, which is part of the city's MAPS 3 initiative, is one of only six man made white water courses in the entire country. The site will offer different courses ranging from class II rapids (perfect for families and first time rafters) to class IV rapids which will challenge even elite athletes.

The district is not just for Olympic-caliber water athletes but for the whole family. Try out the free fall experience of the Rumble Drop or SandRidge Sky Trail, the tallest adventure course of its kind in the world! We have to admit that both the 700-feet zip line across the Oklahoma River and 72-foot sky slide from atop the sky trail make us feel like kids again. But don’t fret, there is plenty to do for those who prefer a little tamer entertainment. Rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board for the day or test your skills on the climbing walls. There is even a youth zone for the kiddos. And certainly all outdoors men and women (young and young at heart) will love the 13 miles of scenic trails that meander along the Oklahoma River.

Can’t decide what to do? Don’t worry you can buy a RIVERSPORT All Access or Adventure pass. You can buy a day or annual pass and try everything the Oklahoma River has to offer.

Boathouse District, family-friendly, MAPS, water sports
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

70 acres of green, blue and you

MAPS 3 Central Park

One of the MAPS 3 projects we’re most excited about is the new downtown public park. Situated just south of the Chesapeake Energy Arena and going all the way to the river, the MAPS 3 park will give us 70 total acres of green space right in the middle of our community.

The master plan has been approved by the City Council, and designs are being fine-tuned. Current plans call for a lake, a café, nature walks, sports facilities and more.

The 40-acre north section is scheduled to be complete in 2018, with the 30-acre south portion ready in 2021. And if you’ve been wondering how you’ll get across I-40 to access both sides, that’s what the Skydance Pedestrian Bridge is for!

downtown, MAPS, parks
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Moving Made Easy: Transportation

business man on EMBARK bus

One thing that might surprise newcomers to the 4-0-5 is just how big Oklahoma City is. The city covers 620 square miles, making it one of the top three largest cities in America by land size. In a city that size transportation is crucial.

The good news is that Oklahoma City sits at the crossroads of three major interstates. If your preferred mode of transportation is automobile … well you won’t spend much time there. Out of the biggest 52 metros in the U.S., OKC had the third-lowest commute time.

As the population of the metro continues to grow, public transportation is also key. EMBARK is Oklahoma City’s bus system and has recently won a trio of prestigious awards. We also have a popular bike sharing program called Spokies.

One of the most anticipated transportation projects (heck, one of the most anticipated developments of any kind) is the upcoming MAPS 3 Modern Streetcar. The final route for the streetcar was recently approved, the streetcars are on order, and construction on the line is slated to begin this year.

If you are looking to travel outside of the metro, come home soon, but check out Will Rogers World Airport and the Heartland Flyer. The airport boasts seven airlines with 22 nonstop flights and the train makes daily trips to Ft. Worth (with connections further south) with several stops along the way. 

For more information on transportation in OKC our website is a great start.

MAPS, public transportation, streetcar, community
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Making waves

If you’ve been in OKC any time at all, you have probably heard about MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects) and how it sparked the revolution of Oklahoma City. Everyone from Men’s Fitness and National Geographic to the New York Times have chimed in to give kudos to the community for investing in itself.

2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year for MAPS 3 projects as some are being completed (think white water rafting in downtown OKC) and others are kicking into high gear.

We are counting down the days (45 to be exact) until the opening of the RIVERSPORTS Rapids Whitewater Rafting and Kayak Center on the Oklahoma River on May 7. And apparently we’re not the only ones – expect Bricktown and all of downtown to be teeming with excitement as Olympians from across the nation gather at the site to take part in Road to Rio Tour presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance U.S. Olympic Team Trials on opening weekend.

The site is one of only six man-made whitewater courses in the country and will be powered by a total of six pumps that weigh more than 12,000 pounds each (think full-grown elephant or two great white sharks) and circulate 82,000 gallons per minute (fast enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in a mere 80 seconds). About 2,000 people will be able to raft in a single day making RIVERSPORTS Rapids one of the largest rafting facilities not only in the United States, but in the entire in the world. But don’t fret, the facility is family-friendly too, offering rafting and kayaking for all levels of users from novice to Olympic Champion.

In addition to adding fun and excitement to our community, RIVERSPORT Rapids will also help increase community safety. The center will be available for firefighter swift water rescue training, offering a controlled setting where rescuers can learn the most advanced techniques for rescuing people from fast-running water.

While you’re exploring the Boathouse District, be sure to check out the three new high-speed slides at RIVERSPORT Adventures. The word on the street is that they are tallest in the country!

Boathouse District, family-friendly, MAPS
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Something for everyone

Lake Hefner Trails

If you prefer drier modes of transportation, there’s plenty of other MAPS 3 projects coming that will keep you moving and exploring our great city. From trails that will connect lakes Hefner, Overholser and Draper and the Oklahoma River, to a modern street car system that will link Bricktown, Automobile Alley, Midtown and the Central Business District, the momentum in OKC is unstoppable.

And the truly fun thing, is we are just getting started. In the coming years, we’ll add a fabulous 70-acre park in the heart of downtown OKC connecting the Central Business District to the Oklahoma River. Other additions will include a state-of-the-art convention center and hotel to be built south of Chesapeake Energy Arena as well as a new Expo Center at State Fair Park.

It's easy to stay up-to-date on what's happening with MAPS 3. Sign up for the MAPS 3 newsletter to stay informed about upcoming community meetings, groundbreakings and other progress.

MAPS, Oklahoma River, parks, running, State Fair Park, streetcar, cycling
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Building on success

Chesapeake Arena

The success and vibrancy that OKC now enjoys didn’t happen overnight. In fact, voters set the wheels in motion more than two decades ago when they voted for the original MAPS projects on Dec. 14, 1993. Since that time, we’ve come to enjoy the Chesapeake Energy Arena, Chickasaw Bricktown Ball Park, Oklahoma River, Bricktown Canal and so much more.

Since the approval of the original MAPS initiative, Oklahoma City has seen more than $5 billion in new public and private investment throughout the city. But the energy, momentum and pride these projects have added to our city are unmeasurable.

In fact, the original MAPS projects were so successful – and the results so undeniable – that voters have since approved similar limited-term MAPS sales taxes time and time again. MAPS for Kids funded school improvements and renovations at each and every school in the OKC metro and MAPS 3 is currently changing the dynamic of OKC once again.

The success of MAPS has representatives from cities all over the country flocking to OKC to study how we did it. Each and every one of the projects have been built debt free (using only the one cent dedicated sales tax), and each sales tax has had a term limit.

Bricktown, education, MAPS, baseball
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Best of 2015

Happy trails to you 2015. While the past year was a banner one for Oklahoma City we think 2016 might top it. There is so much to look forward to as the MAPS 3 projects will continue to take shape, cranes will once again dot the downtown as new towers begin to change the skyline, new music venues will open, new retail will hit the market and who knows? Maybe we will even celebrate the Thunder with a championship parade come June.

This time of the year is filled with “Best of Lists.” Best of music, best of movies, best of television … you get the idea. So why not us? So here are our favorite posts of the past year. Below is a good example of what this blog is all about so you can easily share with your friends and show them why this blog is such a good and entertaining resource. Consider it a “Here-are-five-important-things-a-newbie-to-OKC-needs-to-know” list:

  • Oklahoma Standard- The bombing that happened in downtown Oklahoma City in 1995 forever changed not only our city but country. While it has had a lasting impact the citizens of OKC have not let it define our community. That was never more apparent than this year when we celebrated the 10th anniversary with the Oklahoma Standard campaign.
  • Make Our History Less of a Mystery- From Native American culture to the Land Run saying our region has a unique history would be an understatement. Luckily OKC has a handful of world-class museums that tell our story.
  • deadCENTER Film Festival- We love nothing more than showing off a side of OKC newcomers might not expect. The annual deadCENTER Film Festival is a perfect example of this.
  • Music is in our DNA- Spend any time here and you start to realize OKC can be a bit eclectic. We are little bit country and little bit rock ‘n’ roll (as the kids would say). Nothing exemplifies that more than the musicians who have called Oklahoma home. From the father of folk music to jazz legends, hippie rockers and country superstars, Oklahoma boosts a diverse music scene.
  • Mmm-Beer- Oklahoma City is home to a craft beer scene with breweries taking hope national (and sometimes international) awards.
Thunder, beer, film, history, live music, MAPS, retail
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Looking back, forging ahead

OKC Energy Fans  [Photo Credit: OKC Energy]

[Photo Credit: OKC Energy]

2015 was an exciting year in Oklahoma City. We committed to the Oklahoma Standard, celebrated the inaugural season of the OKC Dodgers, welcomed two new elephants at the OKC Zoo, got fired up for OKCFest, went rolling on the river as we hosted national and international contestants during the Oklahoma Regatta Festival, cheered as the Energy made their first playoff run, shopped till we dropped at all the new retailers across the city and were inspired by the creation of Innovation District.

But if you thought 2015 was thrilling in OKC, buckle your seat belts and hold on tight because we are just getting started. With the completion of some MAPS 3 projects including improvements at State Fair Park and the world-class RIVERSPORT Rapids, 2016 promises to be an exhilarating year.

And our resolution for 2016: keeping you – our loyal reader – in the know about all of the cool, hip happenings in OKC. Don’t hesitate to hit us up on Facebook or Twitter with questions or ideas. All our posts are also tagged by topic so you can easily find past blogs for information, everything from attractions to downtown and much more.

retail, State Fair Park, zoo, Dodgers, festivals, Innovation District, MAPS, OKC Energy, Oklahoma River
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Setting the Streetcar Scene

Streetcar Rendering

Ding ding ding, the new streetcar system will make us sing! (Or at least cut down on our downtown car driving.) But truly, one of our most-anticipated MAPS 3 projects is the modern streetcar and transit hub. The initial six-mile system is hoped to jump-start a new era of clean mass transit and help connect many of the downtown area’s up-and-coming districts, workplaces, public amenities, and more. The project also provides funds to renovate the Santa Fe station into a new intermodal transit hub, where riders can switch from one mode of transit to another, in addition to providing a new pedestrian portal to Bricktown.

Curious about the route? Here’s a map of the approved framework, and here is a cool animation of what it might be like to ride. Phase I is scheduled for completion by 2018, with Phase 2 in 2021. (Wait for it…) All aboard! (You knew we were going to go there eventually.)

downtown, MAPS, public transportation, streetcar
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What are we thankful for? MAPS

Bricktown Ballpark

If you have read our blog for long or been in Oklahoma City for more than a day you know there is great civic pride in the Metropolitan Area Projects (the cool kids just call it MAPS). Just about every good thing to come through our city the last 30 years probably owes a little (or a lot) of its success to at least one of the MAPS iterations. Time and time again the citizens of our great city have invested in the community and the results have been outstanding. That is something we can all be thankful for.

  • MAPS- The granddaddy of them all. The original MAPS brought us the Chesapeake Energy Arena, Chickasaw Bricktown Ball Park, Oklahoma River, Bricktown Canal and so much more.
  • MAPS for Kids- Sequels rarely live up to the originals (looking at you Weekend at Bernie’s II) but this one did. Every single school in the Oklahoma City metro was either rebuilt or renovated.
  • MAPS 3- Progress on the latest projects is well underway and will bring a massive downtown park, whitewater facility, streetcar and more.
MAPS, Oklahoma City history
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (2)

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Making history

Oklahoma River and Skyline photo by John Jernigan

[Photo by: John Jernigan]

While it’s hard to imagine OKC today without the fantastic amenities that are available in the Boathouse District, the district is actually in its infancy. A seven-mile stretch of the North Canadian River, known today as the Oklahoma River, was part of the original MAPS projects and was completed in 2004, a mere 11 years ago. Prior to MAPS, the area had been a dry riverbed whose water was redirected to avoid flooding downtown Oklahoma City. The river actually got its name after local civic leader Ray Ackerman encouraged city leaders to name the area the Oklahoma River. The progress in the Boathouse District continues even today. If you take a stroll through this area, prepare to see world-class boathouses with stunning architecture from Oklahoma City companies and universities. The addition of RIVERSPORT Rapids and the 70-acre downtown park which will stretch from the heart of downtown OKC to the Oklahoma River will only add to the excitement of this unique area. If you haven’t, pack up the family and make the short trek to explore this growing area. We can promise you will be glad you did.  

Boathouse District, family-friendly, MAPS
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

More great things are coming…

New Expo Hall at Fair Park

The fun at State Fair Park isn’t limited to 10 days each year. Construction is currently underway on the new 277,000-square-foot Expo Center that will house a variety of events throughout the year.  The Expo Center, which is expected to be complete next year, will allow for bigger and better events and will also bring new national and international shows to Oklahoma. In fact, once the Expo Center is completed, it will be the largest event space in Oklahoma City.

The Expo Center is one of eight projects funded by MAPS 3, a one-cent, limited-term sales tax to pay for debt-free projects that improve our quality of life. You can find additional information about MAPS 3 projects here.

MAPS, State Fair Park
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The root of Oklahoma City’s forward momentum

Kayakers on the Oklahoma River

While we’re on the subject of elections, let’s talk about one of the most important elections in Oklahoma City’s recent history – the one that changed everything and led to the city’s current, ongoing transformation. If you have visited the Oklahoma River or seen the U.S. Olympic training programs for both canoe/kayak and rowing programs there or attended an OKC Dodgers game in Bricktown, you’ve enjoyed some of the results of that election more than 20 years ago.

Informally and most commonly known as MAPS, the first election for Metropolitan Area Projects happened on Dec. 14, 1993. Then, voters approved a five-year, one-cent sales tax to build or upgrade nine community facilities – projects that are now known as the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark (construction), Cox Convention Center (renovation), State Fair Park (improvements), the Bricktown Canal (construction), Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library (construction), Chesapeake Energy Arena (construction), the Oklahoma River (transformation into a popular recreation area with rowing, kayaking and more), Civic Center Music Hall (rebuilding) and new trolleys.

The initiative was so successful and popular that voters have since approved similar limited-term MAPS sales taxes three more times. MAPS for Kids funded school improvements and renovations and MAPS 3, which passed in 2009 is currently underway.

All projects have been built debt free, and each sales tax has had a term limit.

Since MAPS passed in 1993, Oklahoma City has seen more than $5 billion in new public and private investment throughout the city. But the energy, momentum and pride these projects have added to our city are unmeasurable.

school, Bricktown, Dodgers, election, library, MAPS, Oklahoma River
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (1)

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Happy Trails to You

It is that time of year. We get it. We are going through the same thing. It has been almost four months since New Year’s Eve. We all did great at first. We hit the gym, we ran through the neighborhood, counted the calories and were glued to our Fitbit. This was the year. No doubt about it. We were sticking to our New Year’s Resolution and staying in shape.

One skipped workout might have turned into two. Maybe a little winter cold threw you off your game. Well, that stops now. It is time to dust off your athletic shoes of choice and get your groove back by hitting the trails. Be it on a bike, your two feet or even roller blades, you can head out to an Oklahoma City trail, take in the beautiful weather and get back to being active.

Oklahoma City has extensive trail system that has seen millions of dollars in investment over the past decade. Bond issues in 2000, 2007 and the recent MAPS 3 initiative will help add more than 200 miles of trails to our city (with construction of some of that well under way). The best part is the trails are motor free so you and your family and/or friends can enjoy the outdoors in complete safety (assuming you don’t go Mat Hoffman on everyone).

So hop onto the city’s website to find a trail close to you (we promise there is one) or check out the city’s master plan for what is on the way.

cycling, family-friendly, MAPS, outdoor recreation, running
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Rolling on the River

You’ve heard us talk about the Oklahoma River many times, including the old jokes about how we used to have to mow the river. Like any good joke, there is a lot of truth to it. Thanks to MAPS, the river has gone from a sometimes partially full river that sometimes had to be mowed to a world-class rowing venue with millions of dollars of public/private investment. Maybe no other part of Oklahoma City embodies our modern-day renaissance like the river and its development.

The Oklahoma River is home to an official training site for U.S. Olympic & Paralympic river sports. However, the river is not just for Olympic athletes. The river has something for everyone and is a great place to enjoy the spring weather and get in a little exercise.

No matter your age, Olympic-hopeful or not, you can benefit from this great resource in the heart of Downtown Oklahoma City. If you already have some watersport experience you can head right to the river and rent a canoe or kayak. If you aren’t familiar with rowing, canoeing and kayaking, OKC RIVERSPORT offers classes that will teach you basic technique and general safety rules so you will be out on the water in no time.

As a crazy as it sounds, the Oklahoma River is not just for water enthusiasts thanks to some recent additions like the SandRidge Youth Pavilion. The pavilion is exactly what it sounds like, a pavilion for youths to get rowdy with the Sky Slide, Rumble Drop, playground and much more.

Not a rowdy youth? Try the new SandRidge Sky Trail if you want a thrill. The Sky Trail is the world’s tallest adventure course with six levels of challenges that will have you climbing, jumping and zig-zagging to the top.

Are you about to get in your van and head down to the river? Look at a buying a RIVERSPORT Adventure Pass. The pass allows you to enjoy everything we’ve talked about at one low price.

family-friendly, kids, MAPS, Oklahoma River, outdoor recreation, water sports
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Mapping the Future

So we’ve talked about the Oklahoma River and the great trail system in OKC. Those things didn’t just happen randomly. Thanks to the citizens of OKC passing the MAPS initiatives, we all get to enjoy world-class quality of life amenities like the Oklahoma River, Bricktown Canal, Chesapeake Energy Arena and much more. If you are new to Oklahoma City and not familiar with MAPS check out this quick refresher on the ground-breaking initiatives.

With all the construction and development announcements, even we have trouble keeping track of everything going on so we thought we would give you a little MAPS 3 construction update. For future reference bookmark the city’s website for the latest updates on the projects.

  • Sidewalks: Construction is well underway and you can already walk on MAPS 3 sidewalks in many parts of the city. All sidewalk construction should be completed this year.
  • Oklahoma River: The racecourse improvements have been installed and the Whitewater course is under construction. All phases of the river improvements should be done in 2020.
  • Downtown Public Park: The Master Plan has been approved and the land is being acquired. The park will be complete in 2020.
  • Oklahoma State Fairgrounds: Construction of the new expo center has started.
  • Convention Center: Additional site analysis is underway with an opening in 2019 or 2020.
  • Modern Street Car: Route framework has been approved. The plan is to have the streetcar operational in 2019.
  • Trails: Construction on the West River Trail is nearing completion and the I-44 Trail is in final design. The final phase of the trails will be completed in 2017.
  • Senior Health and Wellness Centers: Architects and operating partners have been identified for the first center. All four wellness centers are slated to be complete by 2021.
downtown, MAPS, Oklahoma River, outdoor recreation, parks, State Fair Park
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Areas to Explore

The current MAPS 3 projects will add more than 200 miles of trails throughout Oklahoma City over the next few years. Once all of the trails are complete, everyone will be able to travel through Oklahoma City’s neighborhoods between the lakes Hefner, Overholser and Draper and the Oklahoma River and back safely again along trails. The West River Trail is expected to be completed this year and will connect Lake Hefner to Oklahoma River. The three-phase plan is expected to continue for the next several years, so look for the number of outdoor recreational activities in Oklahoma City to multiply exponentially. MAPS 3 will also add new sidewalks throughout the city making daily travel easier for pedestrians.

family-friendly, MAPS, outdoor recreation
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (1)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Little Art History

We’ve talked your ear off when it comes to MAPS, but can you really blame us? It took OKC from so-so to so awesome in just two decades.

Now you can experience MAPS in a whole new way with the “MAPS 20th Anniversary Artist Projects” at IAO Gallery in historic Film Row. This exhibition features the work of six artists to help tell the city’s transformational story. It’s free which is awesome. And you’ve got a couple weeks to make sure you stop by. The exhibit will be up through March 15.

Read more about historic Film Row here.

[Photo from ULI Oklahoma]

arts and culture, Film Row, free, MAPS
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Stop. Trolley Time

We are super excited about the modern streetcar/transit system that is coming to OKC thanks to MAPS 3. But it’s not the first time that rail-based transit has graced Oklahoma City’s streets. When housing districts were developed between Northwest 10th and Northwest 23rd Streets in the early 1900s, the new houses were too far for most people to walk to work. The need for an efficient public transportation system was apparent.

In 1902, Anton Classen, Charles Colcord, Henry Overholser and John Shartel (the namesakes of a street, hotel, lake and street, respectively) obtained a franchise for a streetcar system with two lines that helped Oklahoma City’s industrious business people get to and from work daily. As Oklahoma City’s population boomed, the system extended to include recreation destinations, including State Fair Park, Delmar Gardens and Wheeler Park. By 1906, nearly four million riders had utilized the system. Read more about the history of OKC’s transit system.

history, MAPS, Oklahoma City history
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Story All About How OKC Got Flipped-Turned Upside Down

In the late 80s, downtown Oklahoma City was a victim of suburban flight and failed efforts at revitalization. The surrounding area included a dilapidated warehouse district and a river that had slowed to a trickle through flood prevention engineering. Since the 1990s, an amazing renaissance has taken place. Construction of a mile-long canal, a premiere ballpark and the attraction of billions in private investment has transformed downtown and that deserted warehouse district to one of the most vibrant entertainment districts in the Southwest with countless nightlife and entertainment options. The river that once had to be mowed is now home to world-class water events and an Olympic U.S. Canoe/Kayak training and development center.

Check out a past issue of VeloCity to discover how it all happened.

Bricktown, MAPS, Oklahoma River
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Party Like It’s 1993

clientuploads/blog/MAPS_1.jpgLife in OKC is pretty much a daily celebration, but why not get together with some other OKC-ers to celebrate the initiative that started all the goodness? This Friday, Dec. 6, gather at the Chesapeake Energy Arena (one of the original MAPS projects) for a MAPS Celebration from 5 to 7:30 p.m. With the purchase of your ticket, you’ll enjoy a food and cocktail hour, exciting elements from the Oklahoma City Thunder game day experience, followed by the introduction of the key players from MAPS. Plus, the three prolific MAPS mayors will be on hand. Who would want to miss that? Certainly not us. Get your tickets today!

Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Deck the River with Boughs of Holly

A few weeks back, we told you about the transformation that’s taken place at the Oklahoma River, changing a mostly-dry drainage ditch into a sparkling waterway that’s the envy of other cities and the premier training spot for flatwater sport Olympic athletes.

Each year, the Boathouse District hosts an annual Holiday River Parade. This year marks the ninth year for such a tradition, but seeing as it’s the 20th anniversary of MAPS, they’ve got something extra special planned. Grab a thermos full of hot cocoa and head down to the Oklahoma River this Friday, Nov. 29, so you don’t miss out on any of the festivities. Click here to see a schedule of all the great events taking place that day.

[image courtesy of Oklahoma River Events]

family-friendly, festivals, MAPS, Oklahoma River
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

History Lesson

If you want to know more about this state that we are so fond of at TBL, then look no further than the fantastic museums found in Oklahoma City. From authentic homesteads to the lives of famous Oklahomans, there is no better way to learn about this place we call home.

The Oklahoma History Center allows you to experience Oklahoma’s diverse history through eight current exhibits and more than 2,000 Oklahoma artifacts. Watch for their upcoming exhibit on the history of the MAPS program in Oklahoma City.

The Gaylord-Pickens Museum allows you to interact with Oklahomans from the past and present using high-tech interactive touch screens. Before you leave, you can tell your own heritage story at the ONEOK Tell Your Story booth, where a touch-screen computer and video prompter encourage visitors to share stories about their life.

At Harn Homestead, you will feel like you have stepped back into the days of territorial Oklahoma. First settled by William F. Harn in 1892, this museum offers visitors a hands-on look into the lives of Oklahoma City’s pioneers. (Fun fact: William Harn donated the land on which the Oklahoma State Capitol now stands.)

history, MAPS, museums
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

If You Build it They Will Come

From raucous Thunder crowds to the biggest names in music, Chesapeake Energy Arena has been the epicenter for big league entertainment since its opening more than a decade ago. While the arena opened in 2002, its story traces back even further to 1993 with the passage of MAPS.

If you haven’t learned what MAPS is yet, here is a brief overview: in the early 90s OKC was looking to turn things and rebuild its economy after a bust cycle in the energy industry and a banking crisis. The citizens voted to tax themselves to build nine projects that would help raise the quality of life in the metro area. In the two decades since, MAPS has spurred billions in private investment and kicked off a modern day renaissance in OKC.

No project has exemplified Oklahoma City’s can-do attitude like the arena. The Ford Center (as it was called when it opened – today you know it as the Chesapeake Energy Arena) seated more than 19,000 and was designed to NHL or NBA specifications. Some mocked the idea and said OKC was wasting time and money to build an NBA-quality arena. At the time the thought of NBA basketball in OKC was a pie-in-the-sky dream to even the most dedicated sports fans. Still, the citizens knew that if the opportunity arose, OKC would be ready to capitalize.

After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans Hornets (now the Pelicans) needed a home while their arena was repaired. Oklahoma City was one of the few cities that had an NBA arena ready to go, so the Hornets temporarily moved to OKC for two seasons and the rest was history. OKC’s support of the team blew away even the most optimistic supporters and proved Oklahoma City was a big league city.  The Thunder relocated and just four years later the arena that some thought shouldn’t even get built was hosting an NBA finals. 

basketball, MAPS, music, Thunder
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Wicked Water Ride

As regular TBL readers know, the Oklahoma River was once a weird, wild world, especially before MAPS. Thankfully, those days are long gone and now you can experience the river’s vibrancy year-round. There are even opportunities to celebrate some of your favorite holidays in style – like Halloween. Why not take one of Oklahoma River Cruises’Haunt the River” trips? Departing from Exchange Landing at 8 p.m. every Friday and Saturday in October, cruisers can experience a decorated boat, scary music, appetizers and a cash bar. Looking for a cruise with less booze for the kiddos? Not to worry. Kids’ Haunt the River cruises depart every Saturday afternoon from two locations (Regatta Park: 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.; Exchange Landing: 2:40 p.m. and 4:10 p.m.) in October, complete with candy, activity books, spooky cartoons and costume contests! Just make sure they’re not dressed as a pirate or anyone from Gilligan’s Island. That could unnecessarily freak out the captain.

Also, don’t forget Riversport OKC’s Haunt the River event. This Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 26 and 27), enjoy Halloween-themed adventure activities like Punkin’ Chunkin from the Zombie Zip, the Ghost Bounce, and even something called the Candy Corn Climb (also known as “heaven”). Cap off your autumnal adventures by taking in the SandRidge Youth League Fall Championships under the lights on Saturday, Oct. 26. Now get out there and take advantage of all the ways you can haunt the river!

[Image courtesy of Oklahoma City RIVERSPORT.]

family-friendly, MAPS, Oklahoma River, outdoor recreation, water sports
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A watery adventure

A long time ago in a land far far away . . . wait, no. Let’s start again. A little ways back (in the late 1980s and early 1990s to be more exact), things weren’t looking so bright in OKC. The exuberance and awesomeness that exudes from this great city today were just wishes in a well. The region had lost a large number of jobs with the oil bust of the 80s and not being chosen for the United Airlines maintenance facility in 1991 had folks feeling blue.

Thankfully, a group of visionaries put their heads together and came up with a plan called the Metropolitan Area Projects (or MAPS). While we’ve written about it in detail before, this time we’re going to focus on just one project – the Bricktown Canal, you know, the waterway that lines restaurants and shops in OKC’s hoppin’ entertainment district. It’s probably just as hard for us to imagine it not existing as it was for people to ever imagine its existence before MAPS. Back then (before 1999), the area where the canal flows was California Street running through a mostly abandoned warehouse district.

Lucky for us, Oklahoma City has a history of visionary leaders and they saw the potential. They transformed what was bordering on nothing to a really special something. Very few visitors make it to our city without taking a stroll down the canal (or hopping a ride on a Bricktown Water Taxi. And residents experience it year-round, perhaps on their way to a ball game at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, maybe before popping the big question or during a night on the town. Any way you look at it, the canal played a major role in cementing Bricktown as OKC’s entertainment district which had a major hand in our modern-day renaissance.

Bricktown, live sporting events, MAPS, restaurants
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A River Recountal

Sure, you know the Oklahoma River as the place where Olympic athletes and amateurs, the active and the amenable, and the aged and the adolescent (and even younger) alike engage in paddlesports, adventure sports, cycling, running, spectating, cruising, and even some fishing. But it was not always so! Nosiree Bob.

Back in the day, the river used to run wild and had to be tamed. That’s right – today’s pristine venue was yesterday’s bad news. Flooding along the unpredictable North Canadian (the river’s original moniker) was a regular problem in the early days of OKC, and major floods turned downtown into a real downer in 1923 and 1932. So the Army Corps of Engineers stepped in, straightened and widened the river channel (between 1953-1958).

Success! No more floods. Unfortunately, that also meant not much water in the river for much of the time (which is kind of a bummer for a river). Incredibly, the river even had to be mowed at times. Things got so bad, you could almost watch TV in it without getting wet.

Enter MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects), passed in 1993 by the citizens of OKC who were ready to take charge of their city’s future. Among its nine projects was a little somethin’ for the riverfront. In 1999, engineers and builders started partying on the river, constructing three low-water dams with boat locks, along with landscaping and recreational areas. Boom! Constant water gave the river new life. The waterway was renamed the Oklahoma River for a seven-mile stretch through OKC in 2004. Dell opened its OKC complex on the riverfront in 2005, and the Chesapeake Boathouse opened in 2006.

It was so great, the New York Times even profiled the river in 2008. Today there are two boathouses, the fantastic futuristic Chesapeake Finish Line Tower, the SandRidge Youth Pavilion, and the world’s first permanent river stadium lighting system. What’s coming up? The MAPS 3 whitewater rafting course, stadium seating, two more boathouses, and more. As Mayor Cornett recently said, “We used to mow it; now we row it.”


family-friendly, MAPS, Oklahoma River, outdoor recreation, running, water sports
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

State Fair Fun Facts

The Oklahoma State Fairgrounds has a history that spans the length of Oklahoma’s statehood. Here are a few facts you may not know about the Oklahoma State Fair.

  • The first state fair association was organized in January 1907 in the offices of the Oklahoma City Chamber.
  • The first State Fair of Oklahoma opened on Oct. 5, 1907, a few weeks before Oklahoma was officially granted statehood.
  • The first fair attracted a crowd of more than 10,000 people.
  • The State Fair Park moved to its current location in 1954.
  • The park expanded its facilities in 1961 to included horse barns, a move that allowed Oklahoma City to earn its place as the “Horse Show Capital of the World”—a title that the city still holds today!
  • The current park is 435 acres and hosts more than 180 events each year. The total attendance of these events is more than 2.28 million people annually.
  • Oklahoma State Fair Park is located at the junction of two major highways, providing easy access from anywhere in the state (and nation!).
  • State Fair Park was included on the voter-approved MAPS 3 ballot, which will result in a $58 million investment to replace aging public event buildings.

[photo courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society]

festivals, MAPS, State Fair Park
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

OKC by the Numbers

New people are moving to OKC each and every day.  Maybe that includes you. If so, here are some random tidbits to help you get to know your hometown.

  • 300+ instruments in the American Banjo Museum (Did you even know such a cool place existed?)
  • 27,000+ runners in the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon (Start training now and you can be one of them in 2014!)
  • 60.1º average annual temperature
  • 405 – the area code in OKC
  • 4,320 acres of parks
  • $777 million being spent on quality of life improvements
  • 621.2 square miles of land
  • 04.22.1889 – day of the Land Run that settled OKC
museums, outdoor recreation, parks, running, western heritage, community, MAPS
Posted by: Greater Oklahoma City Chamber
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