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Links 1 through 9 of 9 by Blair Humphreys tagged

The next task for Beffort could be acquiring land for the MAPS 3 convention center if it is determined it will be in the Core to Shore area. The plan recommended it be south of the Ford Center and east of the park.

Regarding the convention center’s location, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber President Roy Williams has said other possible sites could be the Producers Cooperative Oil Mill site, the lumberyard north of that facility or the Deep Deuce area north of Bricktown. Cornett said the com­munity would have input in public discussions for all potential sites.

City officials do agree that the park will be the key project to spur development in the area. Holt said the city sees the park playing the same role in Core to Shore that the canal played in Bricktown by adding a large public improvement and then watching the market respond.

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Renovation of the Cox Center was included in the MAPS plan approved by voters in 1993. The work was done in 1999.

Though the building opened in 1971, the renovation is only 10 years old. Williams said the work done through MAPS made the building look better, but didn’t solve any of its size limitations.

"The renovation was carpet and painting,” Williams said. "It didn’t expand it. It didn’t improve it as far as capacity. It didn’t impact the infrastructure.”

Because the Cox Center is surrounded by streets and businesses, it is "landlocked,” he said.

"It can’t be expanded,” Williams said. "That building was designed and built as an arena, not a convention center. The exhibition space and meeting rooms were added as an afterthought.”

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When it was built in 1972, the Myriad Convention Center wasn’t so much a convention center as it was an arena with a few dozen meeting rooms around it. That was fine for a time, though the Myriad never did draw the convention business leaders desired.

So 20 years later, renovating and upgrading the center was important to helping the city lure more outsiders to town. The structurally outdated building proved expensive to upgrade, with a $63.1 million price tag. The plan worked. With a new wing of ballrooms and meeting space that totaled 100,000 new square feet, more and more conventions made their way to a city making a comeback.

While the upgrades were great for the city, other cities upped the convention ante. Many other cities in the region now have larger and better convention centers, according to a study commissioned by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

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"If we want to be in the convention business nationally, in Nashville downtown, we've got to build a new facility," said Starks.

Strategic planner Allen Hovious is part of a grassroots organization questioning whether now is the time for Nashville to spend so much on a convention center.

The group calls itself Nashville's Priorities. They've launched a website with information about what $1 billion would buy, and with lessons from other city's convention centers.

"These convention centers are not paying off as projected in all the studies including the studies that Nashville is using," said Hovious.

Even critics agree something needs to be done about the current center. Nashville's Priorities questioned whether Metro could simply add on to the center.

A 2004 study lists two possible expansion options. A North Option which would cost $181 million and require relocating the McKendree Family Life Center. A South Expansion Option would cost $202 million...

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The centerpiece of the MAPS 3 proposal is a $280 million convention center that will include exhibit halls, meeting rooms, ballrooms and parking. The new center, which would be built alongside a proposed 70-acre, $130 million downtown park, would replace the Cox Business Services Convention Center that was renovated as part of the original MAPS.

Cornett said the current convention center is "inadequate" to compete with those in neighboring cities and states for the lucrative convention business.

But including such an expensive project that most voters likely would rarely use could spell doom for the MAPS 3 initiative, said Stuart Jolly, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter for Americans for Prosperity, a group that advocates limited government and lower taxes.

"Do we really want and need a new convention center?" Jolly said. "The one we have now has never been filled to capacity, it's not continuously booked and it's subsidized by the city to the tune of $2 million a year.

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- Convention Center = JOBS! (that is debatable, but at least we all agree it is not about QoL)
- Intimates that we should be more like Indianapolis with a "super giant convention center."
- States that we must retain the cox convention center

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Oklahoma City taxpayers raised their sales tax rate to build a new state-of-the-art arena and renovate their convention center (the Myriad -- rechristened as the Cox Convention Center). The same tax built a new baseball park and a canal. A later incarnation of the same tax was used to revamp the barely-five-year-old arena to accommodate the whims of a small number of freakishly tall millionaires.

Surely all that public investment is sufficient to stimulate private investment. Surely free enterprise can handle things from here.

Not according to a consultant hired by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce:

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A rash of conference cancellations, and a presidential admonishment peppered with a Las Vegas reference last week, has unnerved politicians and resort executives who are fearful that the all-important convention industry could be on the verge of collapse.

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