View Full Version : Shortage of convention space

10-06-2005, 10:35 PM
Who would've ever thought we would've been faced with this problem. With the Hornets coming to town, we have a shortage of convention space. SMG is suggesting that if we land a permanent NBA team, that the Cox arena stay, and that the city look for more convention space.

I agree! Personally, I think the convention center needs to be epxanded to the south to match what was added on the south side. That would be a start. Eventually, maybe we could close Reno between the Ford Center and convention center, and expand the convention center further southward.

"Convention space shortage prompts time, venue changes

By Steve Lackmeyer
The Oklahoman

A shortage of convention space, unthinkable for Oklahoma City just a few years ago, is forcing some events to change schedules or to move to other venues because of renovations at the Cox Convention Center and the arrival of the Hornets at the Ford Center.

Typically, fall is the slowest time for the old Cox Convention Center arena, making this the ideal time to tear up the building’s exhibit hall floors as part of ongoing renovations.

But nothing is typical about the task facing Gary Dejardins, whose company, SMG, operates the two city venues.

Just a few months ago, Desjardins faced a slower concert tour slate and plentiful open dates at both the 34-year-old, 13,500-seat Cox Convention Center arena and the 3-year-old, 20,000-seat Ford Center.

The sudden move of the Hornets to Ford Center from New Orleans filled up 37 dates at Ford Center, and prompted the Oklahoma City Blazers ice hockey team to move seven of its games to the Cox arena. Torn-up floors in the convention center’s three biggest exhibit halls have filled up even more dates in the Cox arena.

“We’ve been fortunate in that we have two arenas - that’s what has allowed us to accommodate most of the dates on the Hornets’ schedule,” Desjardins said. “The Blazers have helped by being willing to move some of their games to the Cox arena.”

Those Blazers games, coupled with trade shows moved from the closed exhibit halls, are making for one of the busiest seasons for the older arena since the opening of Ford Center in 2002.

In most instances, organizations such as the Oklahoma Hospital Association or shows such as “Sesame Street Live” were able to find new dates or move from the exhibit halls into the older Cox arena. But at least one event may be canceled because of the city’s improved fortunes.

Master Sgt. Mike Joseph, an ROTC instructor at Southeast High School, is working with SMG to find a new date for the annual Oklahoma Invitation Drill Meet. The meet was expected to draw up to 2,000 students from 40 schools across the region, but the Dec. 3 date was complicated by the inability of SMG to dismantle the Blazers ice rink from their Dec. 2 game at the Cox arena.

Joseph has since called State Fair Park only to learn its arena and exhibit buildings are booked with equine and gun shows. So he’s back to working with SMG, hoping to find a new date.

“It’s no fault of the people at Cox and Ford Center,” Joseph said. “Everyone is working very hard with us. But it does appear as if we’re running out of options.”

Desjardins said he thinks the schedule will ease up once the exhibit hall floors are finished in a few months. Changes will add more utility boxes, making the halls more accessible for modern trade shows.

But long-range plans to convert half of the old arena into more exhibit space already were being rethought after the city was named host to the 2007 Big 12 Basketball Tournament. The tournament will require both arenas - one for men’s teams, one for women’s teams.

If the Hornets stay, or if Oklahoma City lands a permanent NBA team, Desjardins suspects the second arena will stay intact and city leaders may need to look at alternatives for expanded convention space.

“It presents us with a new opportunity,” Desjardins said."

10-07-2005, 08:42 AM
Yeah I read that article the other day, its a good problem to be having. Even if we dont land the Hornets its definetely something we need to consider. We're sure to land an expansion team in the next few years if the Hornets dont stay and we'll have the same dilemma only probably worse since the city will have progressed. Another thing we need to look at is remodeling the Cox arena area. Its horrible and old. New seats and lighting would be a big improvement.

10-07-2005, 08:50 AM
A betrrer idea. For the gae dates that the Hornets and Blazers both play at home, move the Blazers to the Norick Arena. It is not used much. Then, proceed with plans to convert the arena into convention space.

10-07-2005, 12:50 PM
I think we need a major conevention hotel with real convention space. Kind of like Malibu's idea at the Galleria space. Sort of a two birds plan.

Is teh Norick arena the state fair arena? I think that would be a great place for the Blazers, but only if it becomes neccessitated by a long term deal with the NBA.

10-07-2005, 01:44 PM
Yeah, I'm not familiar with the Norick arena. To my knowledge the state fair arena is called the State Fair Arena

10-07-2005, 02:31 PM
Yeah, I'm not familiar with the Norick arena. To my knowledge the state fair arena is called the State Fair Arena

The official name of the arena which sits on the fairgrounds is Norick Arena, named in honor of the first Mayor Norick, James Norick.

10-07-2005, 04:17 PM
good to know, never heard it called that

10-07-2005, 07:33 PM
I like the idea of expanding the Cox, but in addition to matching the facade of the South with that of the north,

I think we should rebuild the whole complex. Increase the height to add additional exhibition floors AND reconstruct the arena - make the arena floor deeper/lower while at the same time remove the existing upper bowl. You would still have the same or more amount of seats but the arena would be deeper and you could recover the upper for unobstructed convention space. This could also be achieved by building a convention hotel attop the south entrance of the building.

I'd also like for something to happen to the West and East sides of the building. Murals, or Windows, or something - it looks plain almost an eyesore on the east and west sides; while the south looks outdated and small and the north looks professional and upscale.

Make the whole thing upscale. Expand the existing building upward. Add a real convention hotel to the south entrance or East side. Dig the arena deeper and remove the top bowl for unobstructed floor space. And fix the sides!!!

It may cost some serious $$ but trust me - it will pay dividends (and OKC would still have two arenas across the street)!!!

10-07-2005, 07:35 PM
I also like the idea of using the Norick Arena at the State Fair. I think that facility is far under utilized. While we have all of the action going on downtown, lets move events out to the Norick Arena so that the whole city is exciting and happening!!!

10-07-2005, 10:40 PM
I'd also like for something to happen to the West and East sides of the building. Murals, or Windows, or something - it looks plain almost an eyesore on the east and west sides; while the south looks outdated and small and the north looks professional and upscale.

The sides are just aching for some kind of ornamentation. Especially the south side facing the Ford Center. They're blank canvasses, if you ask me. It's on the south side where a jumbotron screen should go; on one of the protruding south walls, with a blue backlit glass likeness of Jim Thorpe on the other. The Cox Business Services Convention Center sign on the east side lines nicely with a Bricktown Canal view, but maybe more can be done.

I agree, this is a nice problem to have. But I have my doubts as to whether additional convention space is worth it. Convention attendance has been decreasing while the amount of convention space has been increasing. I think tours are the way to go.

10-10-2005, 12:46 AM
The reason we are the most attractive city to host the Big XII basketball tournament is due to the quality and proximity of venues to each other and to the hotels and entertainment options.

I imagine we will be in a every third year rotation (with both KC and Dallas) to host this week long basketball event.

The only work that needs to be done to the arena in the Cox Center is to upgrade it with better lighting, a video scoreboard, and other fan ameneties. The 'Myriad' floor that was being used at the Ford Center until the Hornets came calling will head back North, as will the baskets, as we're getting new NBA quality goods at the Ford Center.

Doing anything to 'remove' the arena at the Cox Center would be a very, very, very bad idea.

10-10-2005, 02:30 PM
Im not saying remove it, by no means. Im saying rebuild it (lower the floor and skim off the top). Same capacity yet more up to-date and intimate.

To give you all an example of what I'm talking about, Key Arena here in Seattle received the same treatment. Its original capacity was less than 10,000 and was a poor choice for basketball - however the Supersonics were here, nonetheless. In Mid 1990s, the city closed the arena (the team moved to Tacoma) and they dug up the floor and lowered it (not sure how much) and updated the seating/amenities.

This added capacity, giving it near 14,000 for basketball and made the NBA happy. True, the NBA wont be playing at Cox but!!! we should update it to be a better second facility as well as recover some much needed unobstructed floorspace.

10-10-2005, 03:25 PM
Actually they checked into using the State Fair Arena. It's booked with horse shows. Actually, it's used more than you'd think.

10-10-2005, 03:28 PM
It would be difficult to lower the floor of the Cox Center Arena, as the parking garage is under the building. We could remove the parking garage, but I wouldn't recommend that. Whoever decided to build a parking garage under the Cox Center was pretty forward thinking. I thought they should've done the same thing under the Ford Center.

10-10-2005, 07:28 PM
The reason they didn't put a garage under the Ford Center is because it is dug out at least a floor below street level in the center.

I definitely agree we need to expand the south end to match the north end and do something to make the east and west sides look better. I always thought San Francisco's Moscone Center had a nice looking exterior. It also has more height which we should consider. I always thought it would be cool to add on a convention center hotel. Like a Hyatt Regency perhaps?

Hot Rod, I don't really understand what you mean about "unobstructed floor space" or why cutting the top of the arena will help this.

10-10-2005, 10:22 PM
JBrown, are you serious?

Unobstricted floor space = unobstructed + floorspace

Unobstructed = continuous

cutting the top would give continuous floorspace (hence unobstructed). Build a floor at the base of the current upper bowl area, lose the seats and stands - and you have at least 55000 sq ft unobstructed floorspace.

10-10-2005, 10:26 PM
Maybe a dictionary might help you understand.

2 entries found for unobstructed.
un·ob·struct·ed ( P ) Pronunciation Key (nb-strktd, -b-)
Free from obstructions; clear: an unobstructed view.

[Download Now or Buy the Book]
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.


adj : free from impediment or obstruction or hindrance; "an unobstructed view" [ant: obstructed]

Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University


I hope this is not a reflection of the school system in Oklahoma. You dont have to be an MBA to know what that means, do you?

10-11-2005, 08:43 AM
Hot Rod, that wasn't necessary. It was a simple question asking you to clarify. I'm surprised at your post. I didn't understand what you are talking about either.... and I still don't.... so perhaps the messenger is at fault, not the reader of the message.

10-11-2005, 02:42 PM
Hot Rod, that wasn't necessary. It was a simple question asking you to clarify. I'm surprised at your post. I didn't understand what you are talking about either.... and I still don't.... so perhaps the messenger is at fault, not the reader of the message.

He's referring to open floor space. A lot of venues have large square footage, but due to the buildings structure, there are columns througout the convention floor.

A downfall to the new roof on the International Building at the fairgrounds is that with the 'bubble' roof, there was an unobstructed floor space, increasing the number of vendors/exhibit space inside the building, but now with the permanant roof, there are many support structures/columns limiting the useable space.

Does that make any sense?

10-11-2005, 09:41 PM
I know what unobstructed means mranderson, oops I mean Hot Rod. In this context, I didn't know what you meant. Here's why what you are saying didn't make sense to me. You can't take a room as large as the Cox arena--even the lower bowl--and build a floor on top of it without putting a bunch of columns in the middle of the room to hold up that floor. Also, if you've ever looked up in the Cox arena, or any arena, there are all kinds of catwalks and open space for lighting and other equipment and such. You can't just have a ceiling directly above the arena.