Another Ford Center event? Not exactly


In the interest of accuracy, I must inform you that Oklahoma City's Ford Center and Cox Business Center has added one more event to their sparsely populated calendar. John Mayer, a singer-songwriter, is on the calendar at the Cox Business Center (the old Myriad) for November 14. I guess the reason they aren't using the Ford Center is that there's a minor league hockey game that night. Interesting that an event that will largely draw local fans and will not bring money into the community gets priority over a concert of the sort which, we are told, will bring fans and their money from far and wide.

UPDATE: An OKC participant in the Tulsa Now forums (uses the handle TStorm) thinks I am bashing Oklahoma City and the Ford Center with this post. I thought I was being fair by pointing out this new event on the calendar. TStorm offers an explanation for the dearth of exciting entertainment opportunites:

Ford Center is managed by SMG (Spectator Management Group), a national entity in charge of booking events at Ford Center. According to several reliable sources, not very many acts are touring at this time, and those that are have been booked mainly in cities along the coast. American Airlines Arena in Dallas has nothing through December but the Texas Stampede and Gaither Homecoming booked- other than Mavericks and Stars games. Does that make AA Arena a failure? No. Every venue will have its down time.

Here's the reply I posted there:

I like OKC, I have family in the city, and I wish the city all success. I think Bricktown was a fun place to visit before the Ford Center opened, and is still a fun place even when nothing is happening at the Ford Center.

My point in talking about the Ford Center calendar during the campaign was to try to wake Tulsans up from their reverie -- the idea that building the arena would bring big acts to Tulsa on a frequent basis, the notion that the arena would solve our city's perceived entertainment deficit, revitalize downtown, and make it easier to recruit young adults to work in Tulsa. The Ford Center was being held up to Tulsa as the reason behind OKC's success, and a model for us to follow, so it deserves close scrutiny. The people of Tulsa did not vote for this arena (to the extent they knew the arena was on the ballot) just to have a bigger venue for minor league hockey. For all we're paying for the new arena, I would hope the arena management would send the Oilers to play in the Pavilion if there were a chance of getting an act that might fill 18,000 seats.

In an earlier entry, I pointed out that both Tulsa and Oklahoma City have a lively music scene happening outside big arenas, at privately-owned places like Cain's Ballroom and the Green Door and public venues like OKC's Zoo Amphitheater.

As for accuracy and doing my homework, I don't see that I misstated or concealed any information. I appreciate TStorm bringing some additional information to public attention. It is interesting to read that touring acts aren't even coming to the region -- even to a place like Dallas. And that raises the key question for Tulsa -- will we get our money's worth out of this arena? If big acts are staying away from flyover country, the answer is "probably not."

And here's a wild thought, a possible, though farfetched, explanation for the sudden fall off in Ford Center acts. Did Tulsa business leaders subsidize the Ford Center's amazingly successful first year, as a way of increasing demand in Tulsa for a new arena? Did they provide additional financial incentives to get acts to stop at the Ford Center? And did they drop the subsidy once the election was around the corner?

A less farfetched thought -- perhaps OKC subsidized the first year to kickstart the new center and draw fans from outside the metro area, but ultimately decided that the approach wasn't sustainable in the long run.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 14, 2003 8:56 PM.

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