Arena size matters


The Whirled is upset because the downtown sports arena may not be 20,000 seats. They are worried that if the size is downscaled we may not get the big tournaments and concerts that were promised. I'm looking for any indication of what was promised, and I seem to recall that an arena size as small as 15,000 was mentioned.

Nailing it down is difficult: The day after the election, all the content from Vision 2025 campaign website ( was rendered inaccessible -- the hot links on the home page were disabled. The Internet Wayback Machine ( doesn't have any snapshots of the contents of the site -- webmasters can deliberately program a website so that archive websites. It looks like a calculated effort to defeat any attempt to hold the proponents of Vision 2025 for the promises made to the voters.

They forgot about Google, which had captured several internal pages. I found this:

Tulsa Regional Convention / Events Center / $183 Million

This includes a much needed modernization of the existing convention center and the construction of an 18,000 fixed seat events center that, in combination, will provide state-of-the-art facilities that will make Tulsa a more attractive entertainment venue for conventions, trade shows, concerts, religious, sports and other large events, creating hundreds of new jobs for Tulsans and expected to generate an estimated economic impact of $92 million annually and $5.86 million in state and local tax revenues.

So there's the promise: 18,000 fixed seats. So it could seat more for concerts, but only 18,000 for sports events. Presumably the proponents felt that would be enough for to serve the sports events they want to attract.

(By the way, a search of the Whirled's archives reveals that the phrase "events center" has not been used in its pages since September 14, 2003, less than a week after the vote. Since then, they've gone back to calling it what it is -- an arena.)

I'm not happy that they have our tax money for their arena, but it's important that it be done right. The feasibility study revealed doubts that Tulsans would fill anything bigger than the Mabee Center, so maybe it would be better to build smaller but high quality, so we can make the most of Cesar Pelli's creativity. On the other hand, if someone can produce a serious feasibility study showing that a 20,000 arena will lose less money than a 15,000 seat facility, that ought to be considered, too, although it's hard to imagine.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 20, 2004 1:32 AM.

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