If you are new to OKC, you may think that the Oklahoma River has always flowed freely just south of downtown, or that the Chesapeake Energy Arena has always welcomed screaming sports fans. Actually, the hallmarks of Oklahoma City’s renaissance are relatively new and they all got their start when Oklahoma City residents approved the Metropolitan Area Projects in December 1993.
Before that time, Oklahoma City had endured an economic recession and many of its workforce left for other areas. When an airline chose to locate a production facility in another place because their employees didn’t want to relocate to Oklahoma City, community leaders knew they had to change their investment strategy.
From that motivation, the groundbreaking MAPS program was born—a temporary 1-cent sales tax that was used to construct public facilities debt free. The first iteration of that program brought Oklahoma City back to life and gave us iconic facilities like the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, Bricktown Canal, Cox Convention Center, Chesapeake Energy Arena and the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library—all facilities that we can’t imagine OKC without.
The program was so successful that it was repeated two times: the MAPS for Kids program in 2001 and the MAPS 3 program in 2009. MAPS for Kids infused $800 million in capital investments for schools throughout Oklahoma City. Like other MAPS projects, MAPS for Kids has played a fundamental part in improving the daily lives of Oklahoma City residents. By investing in Oklahoma City student’s schools and programs, MAPS for Kids has also invested in the future of Oklahoma City.
More recently, MAPS 3 expanded the quality-of-life improvements to include a new downtown convention center, a new downtown park, the Oklahoma City Streetcar, the whitewater center at RIVERSPORT Rapids, the Bennett Event Center at State Fair Park, senior health and wellness centers throughout the metro, and more trails and sidewalks to help connect pedestrians to parks, schools and employment centers.