View Full Version : More hotels needed downtown???

08-20-2004, 10:54 AM
Well, this is great new for downtown Oklahoma City. Some expert recently said that even with the addition of the Renaissance and Courtyrad downtown, and the building of the new Embasy Suites on the canal, and renovation of the Skirvin Hotel, more hotel rooms are still needed downtown if we expect to keep attracting major sports events. I think this is great news, and hopefully hotel developers will hear this news. You know, St. Louis, a city that is acually smaller than ours in population, but a lot more developed, has around 20 hotels downtown. I could see us having a good 10 to 15 hotels downtown in the near future. I'd like to see many high rise hotels along the canal in Bricktown....seems like San Antonio's Riverwalk is dominated by hotels. I think they have somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 hotels right on the Riverwalk itself, with many others in the downtown area surrounding the Riverwalk.

"Make room for SPORTS: More hotels needed to land tournaments
By Paul Monies
The Oklahoman

Despite the hotel-building boom near Bricktown, the downtown Oklahoma City area may need more hotel rooms to keep attracting collegiate tournaments, a local sports executive said Thursday.
Next year, the city will host NCAA men's bas ketball tournament opening rounds, the Women's College World Series and the Big 12 baseball tournament. The tournaments are expected to pump more than $24 million into the local economy, said Tim Brassfield, executive director of the Oklahoma City All Sports Association.

"It's all about economic impact, quality of life and making memories for our state," said Brassfield, one of four speakers on a sports business panel at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce's monthly luncheon.

With the recently opened Courtyard by Marriott, the Renaissance Hotel -- which opened in 2000 -- and proposals for an Embassy Suites and renovating the Skirvin Hotel, the city's central core could have more than 1,400 hotel rooms in the next few years.

But Brassfield acknowledged that still may not be enough to keep attracting top-flight tournaments.

"We're probably still in need of additional hotel rooms because most
of the downtown hotel rooms are used by teams during the tournaments," Brassfield said. "The fans have to stay elsewhere."

Bricktown development, including the SBC Bricktown Ballpark and the Ford Center, has helped the city increase its national profile. In the last decade, Oklahoma City has become the top small-market sports and entertainment destination in the nation, said Brad Lund, chief executive officer of Express Sports, which owns the Blazers ice hockey team.

"Are we major-league yet? No, but we're on the right track," said Lund, who also teased the crowd with plans for a "major Blazers announcement" Aug. 26 at the state Capitol.

State Sen. Scott Pruitt, who owns the RedHawks along with Bob Funk, said attendance for the minor-league team is up 25 percent this year. The RedHawks also have entered the concert business, with the first-ever ballpark concert last month. Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson are set to perform at the ballpark Sept. 3.

"We're trying to make sure the ballpark is getting used most of the year, or when we're out of town in the summer," Pruitt said.

Aside from the Ford Center and SBC Bricktown Ballpark, renovations to the Don E. Porter Hall of Fame Stadium complex near Remington Park have led to "unbelievable growth," said Bill Plummer, manager of the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame. The stadium had record crowds for this summer's Women's College World Series and will host more than 250 amateur softball teams in the next year, he said.

"We want to keep the NCAA Women's World Series," Plummer said. "ESPN is thrilled, it's good for softball, it's good for the softball association and it's great for Oklahoma City. The city is on the right path."

Express' Lund said other events such as Davis Cup tennis tournaments and the fact that Oklahoma has a boxing commission means the city's sports business is growing.

"We've come a long way in the last 12 years from an image perspective," Lund said. "We now get calls -- whether it's tennis, boxing, rodeo, lacrosse, major league soccer. Twelve years ago, we all had to go to those groups and say, 'Put our city in your league.' Now the tide has turned, and we can pick and choose the event for our demographics that makes business sense as well."

08-20-2004, 03:21 PM
The sports industry, as part of the visitor and convention industry represents some real economic development for the city. Those that bring in the most outside dollars are the most beneficial.

Some knock hotels and restaurants as frothy parts of the economy that pay low wage jobs. That's true, but 1) they do represent employers of "unskilled" workers whose job market used to include manufacturing 2) every dollar spent on hotels and restaurants is a rock thrown into a pond that generates further spending (those places have to purchase and contract out their own needs).

So let's bring 'em on. Every surprised and pleased visitor is worth $$$ in positive PR. That PR turns heads and gets us in the radar screen of potential employers and consumer businesses. Let's build those hotels.

08-20-2004, 05:31 PM
Yes. And names yet to grace our skyline such as Hyatt, Double Tree, Omni and others. Plus make their design creative.

08-21-2004, 12:18 PM
Good points all around, many more nice hotels are needed downtown if OKC shall ever attract a top flight professional franchise. But also remember that large sums of corporate cash are also needed-preferably from companies headquarted in the city. Also a requisite is respectable media outlets such as newspaper, television and radio. The OKC metro area including Norman is around 909,000 that is certainly large enough to support a franchise, but in the end it all boils down to money-how much do we have, how much may we potentially earn and who shall step forward and aggressively invest in a Pro franchise for the city. I believe the city is moving in the right direction and is on the verge of really being a major player for some major attraction. I just hope some benevolent millionaire will step forward and help bring a team to Oklahoma!! The citizens of this state would support it.

08-21-2004, 01:05 PM
Diogenes: Where did you get 909,000 people? The metro Oklahoma City area officially has nearly 1.2 MILLION people. It hit one million in 1993 give or take a year or two.

This may not include outlining areas such as Guthrie, Shawnee, El Reno and Purcell, which ARE part of the metro. I place us closer to 1.3 million.

We, at this time have four professional sports franchises. The Oklahoma RedHawks, the Oklahoma CIty Blazers, the Oklahoma City (yuk) YardDawgz, and the Oklahoma City (again, yuk) Ballhawgs. No, none are major league. However, they ARE professional. The players are paid a salary for their performance, thus making them professional.

Television market. We are a top 50 market as we stand now. I know of nothing that can change that. Population and broadcast range regulate that. Factor in the possible fan base range and that grows to 25. You have Tulsa, Wichita Falls, Wichita, Joplin, parts of Colorado, past Ft Smith, and maybe all the way to Alburqurque. That makes nearly five million people. It would be a regional franchise, however carry the name Oklahoma City for publicity reasons.

You do not need a lot of major businesses either headquartered or with major facilities to support a major league team. Example. Name the major corporations based in Salt Lake City or the corporations with major facilities (except Delta Airlines, who hubs there). I doubt you can name enough to support a team based on popular myth.

I hate yuppie expressionism, however... "Think outside the box." :rolleyes: :o

08-21-2004, 09:02 PM

The 2000 Census had OKC Metropolitan Statistical Area at 1.15 million residents. Since then, the rules changed - allowing OKC Metro to absorb El Reno, Guthrie, Newcastle and Noble County and Lincoln County into its metro area. That alone pushed us near 1.2 mil.

The 2003 estimate for OKC is 523,200 while the metro area is 1.25 mil. That is a reasonable increase and more than takes into account the increase in city pop as well as the "newly defined" metro area. So, OKC Metro is assumed to have over 1.2 million residents given the old one had 1.15 mil during 2000 census (and the city and metro has grown and the defined area has also grown).

Back to the thread

Yes, I do hope OKC will continue to attract downtown hotels and the professional and collegiate offerings they bring. I was sort-of worried when I used to read articles city leaders would say about our downtown hotel situation "becoming major league" with 1500 hotel rooms. I would say, PLEASE! Major downtowns have at least 3500 hotel rooms of many different varieties - Upscale, luxury, economy, business, extended stay, no frills, all suites, family, so on.

I think OKC needs to shoot at least for 3000 downtown hotel rooms of every variety, not just all upscale like the Renaissance, not just business like the Courtyard by Marriott, and not just professional and family like Westin/Sheraton is vying for. We need luxury hotels, more upscale, more business, some extended stay, so on . . downtown as well.

If the average hotel has roughly 240 rooms and we already have 1400 available + in the works, then we would need to build at least 6 more hotels. Honestly, I would say these six should be upscale and business 3 and 4 star, like Marriott signature, Hilton signature, Holiday Inn, Sheraton or Westin in addition to the one on Broadway.

Courtyard will probably be rated as a 4 star in the next announcement (currently they have no ranking due to being so new). Renaissance is a 4 star. Westin is rated at 3. Hilton Skirvin will be a 4 star, although I hoped they would reconstruct the Hilton Skirvin as a 5 star luxury. Embassy Suites would probably be a 3 star hotel given it is in Bricktown on the canal (more family oriented than business).

So we need a few 5 star hotels downtown (currently Oklahoma has NONE), more 4 star luxury, business, convention, upscale boutique, and trendy, more 3 star family, economy. Even some 2 and 1 stars to accomodate everyone's taste and budget.

I really think in addition to the 3000 regular type hotels (six more hotels there), we should also get in some executive, upscale extended, and executive extended stay hotels downtown. Under the holiday inn chain they are Staybridge Suites [executive], under Hilton chain they are Homewood Suites [exec extended] and Hilton Garden [executive and business], under Marriott they are Townplace Suites [executive extended] and SpringHill Suites [executive upscale], under Starwood they are W [executive upscale] and 4 points [executive]. We need these hotels downtown to add to the diversity of downtown transient housing in addition to serving our business traveling community.

If we added some of these, in addition to a few motel 6 types (but we restrict them to being multiple floor downtown hotel types - not those sprawling highway motel designs) then that may give us close to 5000 downtown hotel rooms of every type. Then, OKC would definitely be major league and could accomodate anything, including multiple conventions/sport events/concerts AND business travel. To me, that is the key and I hope OKC does not even think of stopping the downtown hotel boom until we have at least 3500 hotel rooms downtown.

And yes, I agree with you all that we need more high-rise hotels downtown. We should definitely require through zoning, that hotels within the CBD be no lower than 20 storeys tall if they have 300 rooms, no lower than 15 storeys if they have 200 rooms. They may not want to put high rise hotels on the Btown canal, though. But I think the 8 storey Courtyard is too short and it should have been 15 like the Renaissance. This is DOWNTOWN! (and the CBD!!!)

08-21-2004, 09:20 PM
The other thing I got out of the article is there will be an announcement on Aug 26 at the capital by Lund of Express. In the previous statement, he said we were not major league yet but we were on our way.

Put two and too together and I theorize that he will announce on Aug 26 at the State Capital, that the OKC Blazers will become Oklahoma City's next major league franchise, becoming the NHL Oklahoma something hockey team. I hope it will still be Oklahoma City .... but I think the will be named Oklahoma ... because it will be announced at the state capital and not downtown or Bricktown. If it were OKC something, it would be announced in the heart of the city; if it were statewide team but based (played) in OKC, then you would announce it at the capital.

Hopefully the former logic is correct (that the Blazers will move into the NHL) but the latter is incorrect (that the team will drop Oklahoma City namesake taking Oklahoma instead).

I just dont agree that we need to have Oklahoma something in order for the state to support the team. Portland Trailblazers of the National Basketball League receive support from the state of Oregon but the team kept Portland in its name, so has the Seattle Seahawks, the Seattle Mariners, and the Seattle Supersonics of the NBA. Even our junior hockey team Seattle Thunderbirds has Seattle in its namesake. Washington ... or Oregon ... is reserved for college sports out here. Pro sports take on the name of the city they are played at even though the whole state supports the team(s).

Oklahoma should let the professional sports take on city names where they are played (or the major metro area they are played) and leave the state named teams for college, like we do out here. I just think it diminishes the prestigue of the University of Oklahoma for OKC to have an NHL team named Oklahoma something. It also diminishes the point of a major league team in OKC or even diminishes OKC as a destination somewhat if the team were named Oklahoma ... because many people do not know how big OKC is and might mistake the team as being played in Tulsa (Tulsa still has more prestigue than OKC nationally, you know).

So these reasons further emphasize my opinion that the team should be named Oklahoma City ..., preferably Oklahoma City Blazers of the National Hockey League. In any event, I am glad OKC is more than likely getting a major league team, nonetheless! This is a great Renaissance that I hope will continue!!

Who knows, perhaps it will be an NBA announcement? But I think it will be NHL since Lund already has hockey here! BTW, did you notice that OKC already has a higher ranked hockey team than we have in Seattle? OKC Blazers is AA hockey, Seattle Thunderbirds is junior hockey (which is not even A rated). And the funny thing is Seattle heavily supports the Thunderbirds (and Seattle supports the only NW based NHL team as well - the Vancouver Canucks). I guess Seattle is not interested in the NHL, but we have no trouble to support our junior team and Vancouver's major league team. Weird, huh?

08-22-2004, 12:39 AM
I think we may have missed the point of the article, but regardless all of the points made here are veryu good. The article was saying that more hotel rooms were still needed downtown, not necessariyl to attract a pro sports franchise but to keep attracting quality events like the IFR, NCAA basketball tourny, Big 12 basketball tournaments, Women's Softball World Series, Big 12 baseball tournament, etc.

But, I fully agree with Diogenes comments. If we're ever going to attract a professional sports team to our city, we really need to build a corporate base.

The more and more I think about it though, I tend to wonder if now is the right time to land a professional sports team. I agree that OKC eventually needs to go after one, but with the shape both the NHL and NBA are in right now, not quite sure it's really worth it. Out of the two, we might actually have a better chance with the MBA, as the MHL is falling apart at the current time. Of course, the MLS would probably be the best option of all, but I was thinking more in terms of filling the Ford Center with a pro team, as we already have a first class arena just waiting for a pro franchise.

We have a decent corporate base....we just need to tap into it more, while at the same time building on it. I think attracting names like Dell to the market definitely help our cause, even if it's just going to be a call still gives Dell a presence in Oklahoma City, and hopefully we can tap into them for community support for such things as sports teams!

As far as which millionaire is going to bring a franchise to OKC.....well, right now I guess our best shot is Bob Funk! He seems to be the one that has the monopoly on sports around here. He's said before that he's interested in pro sports in OKC.....but he's also a smart investor and knows when the right time will be to jump into that market. I think right now he's taking a wait and see approach. The question isn't really whether OKC can support a pro team, but whether the pro leagues are viable enough to risk investing money into. Right now, I don't think the NHL is really worth the risk. As I said in another post, for now, our best move might very well be a move up to the American Hockey League, and I'm kind of hoping that the announcement Brad Lund makes next week will address the Blazers moving up a level.

Hot Rod, you are so right on when you say that our city leaders for awhile were missing the point when they were just focusing on the 1500 room number. We reallyneed to have our eyes set on more rooms than that. As far as I'm concerned, let's fill the canal with high rise hotels!!! I agree that we need more variety. I was sad to hear that Felcor Lodging (I think that's what they were called) weren't able to get financing to build a Holiday Inn on the canal. I thought Holiday Inn would've been a great additino to the downtown market, and would've presented something not quite as upscale as Renaissance and Westin, but still very high quality! But, Hammon's Embassy Suite will be a good replacement. Although the existing hotels downtown have a few suites, having an all-suite hotel downtown will be a nice addition! Regardless, we need more hotels of all different types. Not only do we need more commonplace hotels like Best Western and Holiday Inn, but we need more upscale hotels like Hyatt and Omni. And I agree that even a few 1 or 2 star hotels might not be a bad idea......I think something more affordable like a Holiday Inn Express, LaQuinta Inn and Suites, or Hampton Inn would fill that void nicely........maybe on the outskirts of Bricktown. I say leave the canal for the highrises, and build the 5 star hotels as close to the conventino center as possible. I suppose the canal itself wouldn't be a bad place.....afterall, the San Antonio Riverwalk has a Hyatt, Marriot Rivercenter, etc. Most of the hotels on the Riverwalk are 4 or 5 star, while those on the outskirts on lower.

As you mentino Extended stay hotels in the downtown area would fill the need for business people.

In contrast to what Hot Rod said, I do think highrise hotels would fit nicely on the canal....just look at the Riverwalk in San Antonio....the Hyatt Regency, Marriot, Marriot Rivercenter, Hilton, and Westin are all high rise fact, the Marriot Rivercenter is the tallest building in downtown San Antonio. I'm glad that Hammons is shooting for 10 stories for the Embassy Suites. That will be much better than the 5 story Holiday Inn that was originally planned.

08-22-2004, 12:45 AM
Hot Rod,

I had to comment on what you said about Lund's statement coming up this next week.

With all of the enthusiasm Lund used to make his statement and the crowd of supporters that were there, I'm being to think that what you theorize might be correct. I didn't think Express would be interested in the NHL right now with the shape it's in, but this might be just the right time for OKC to jump into the mix. With attendance down in the NHL, if Oklahoma throws all of its support behind an OKC team, I can see us helping lift the NHL back up, just as we did with the CHL when we joined it!

Since the statement is coming from the capitol, it has to be something large enough to impact the entire state.

And no....I don't think it's NBA, MLS or anything like that, because Lund clearly said it concerns the Blazers. NHL is my only guess.

But then again, since he said we're getting close to major league, we could just be moving up to the American Hockey League, as I've already suggested. As an AHL team, we'd be a farmclub for an NHL team......this would also have a huge impact on the state, as it would be the first real AAA hockey team in the state, and it would give us our first ties to an NHL team.

I'm excited on hearing the announcement this next week! Hope we're not all disappointed!

08-22-2004, 02:47 AM
Hope we're not all disappointed!

Me Too! Let's keep our fingers crossed, that we dont get some dumb-stupid second class hand-me-down crap but instead is something we could at least hang our pride on. AAA is nice but I just think a major league announcement would sure be great for OKC.

It would Continue our Renaissance and finally move us to another league, as we surely deserve. Who cares about the rest of the NHL? It is major league and other cities will play and hear about OKC. That is what counts! We can deal with the league later once we have a say so.

In any event, I sure hope the announcement will be better than the AF2 sell-out/announcement "excuse me." In my opinion, they sold OKC out as we were a legitimate AFL city but took our team to Austin and told us we were a great "expansion" for the minor league. BS.

Like I said, lets keep our fingers crossed we dont hear some crap like that again, ever!

We need Positive, Progressive, Renaissance in Oklahoma City, not sidesteps and backpeddling back to the past!

08-23-2004, 12:13 AM
Amen Hot Rod! I'll be glued to the local media outlets on the 26th! An NHL team would be a great finish to MAPS I, as one of the goals of MAPS I was to being an NHL team to town.