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.