View Full Version : Tulsa arena blog

09-30-2004, 12:26 AM
downtownguy had a great article in his blog today:

Wednesday, September 29, 2004
Tulsa Should be Proud

Can anyone knock the design? What youíre seeing is the proposed design for Tulsaís new downtown 18,000-seat arena by internationally renown architect Cesar Pelli. As reported by Tulsaís KOTV, it's what the architect called a direction - not the final design, but very likely a close image of how it will appear. The design features towering walls of glass that spiral out to the street on two sides - with the main entrance facing 3rd and Denver.

Grumbling continues over its location. A big downtown post office looms toward one side of the future arena, while other streets are lined with the YMCA and other social agencies.

You know the comparison game is going to begin. Iím not sure if Tulsans realize that Oklahoma City is rooting for them to once again be one of the regionís hot tech cities. Yes, Oklahoma City wants to enjoy prosperity with Tulsa Ė isnít Oklahoma worthy of at least two great cities?

No, Ford Center doesnít compare to this Tulsa dream. But itís also at least $40 million more expensive, and at this stage, you canít be too sure what the final pricetag will be.

Also, look again at Ford Centerís location. A major east-west highway to the south, a hotel, garage and thriving entertainment district with dozens of restaurants and clubs to the east. A major downtown park to the west. And a convention center with a second smaller arena to the north.

Nope, this arena isnít a Lexus like Tulsaís. But this Ford sure is functional. Let the debate begin.

An aside: thanks for all the praise, which wasnít what I was fishing for with my last post. One great idea: this site will now be devoted to downtowns across the state.

Thanks for keeping up!

- The Downtown Guy

09-30-2004, 12:31 AM
Here's a reply I gave:

I think your questioning of the price tag of this project is worthy of discussion. I remember debate going on awhile back on Tulsanow about how the arena might have to be downsized due to funding limitations. I wonder if Tulsa really has the money to invest in this architecture. I will admit, the pics look nice. But, as you say, location makes all the difference. Sure, I-40 in OKC will be moving south, but OKC's arena right in the middle of all of the action, gives it recognition and useability. Location makes a difference. Just look at Kemper Arena in KC.

09-30-2004, 12:41 AM
I agree Patrick. I am happy for Tulsa about this design, indeed. However, look at the conformity of the design, and the complexity. That alone is not a cheap price tag for structural engineers. There will be a lot of numbers crunching to make this work. Furthermore, there has been a steep increase in steel prices. And its location is not very effecient. Good for pictures, bad for traffic. What bothers me most is that this project, along with all Vision 2025 projects, will be bonded out and paid off with sales tax revenue. Oklahoma City paid out of the pocket with sales tax revenue already collected, not having to bond out the projects. MAPS is paid for... no debt!!!

Continue the Renaissance!!!

09-30-2004, 01:52 AM
I too am a little curious about the final pricetag. Cesar Pelli's objective was to create an arena that could be built with the available funds, getting advice from structural engineers and others, hence the large team picked to work with Pelli. However, most projects start out in the budget and end up going over budget...the good thing about the Tulsa arena, is that it was being designed after steel prices rose, so that should be figured in. If I had to guess, the final design will come out 20 million or so over what was needed, and Tulsa will use additional taxes, even though they said they wouldn't, or will have a name donor by then to pay off the rest. I doubt you are going to see something taken away from the arena in the pictures above.

09-30-2004, 02:58 AM
I'm willing to bet they stick with the design......I don't blame them's attractive and fits Tulsa well. But, I still bet they'll have to find someway to cut costs. We had the very same problem here with MAPS......we only had so much money budgeted for such a large structure......which wasn't much to work with when you compare how much other comparable arenas cost. We chose to cut architecture and expensive finishes instead of cutting seats. In the end, it paid off, because as we've seen, most concert tours are looking for numbers (tickets to sell) and could really care less about architecture......if the venue seats a lot of folks and is adaptable for multiple uses, it will be highly sought after by concert tours.

Sure, Ford Center may not look like much on the outside, but it serves its purpose well.

I'll bet Tulsa chooses to cut seats instead of architecture. That's just the mindset Tulsa has. There's nothing at all wrong with that though. As I said in another post, Tulsa values quality over quantity. That's why they have such a classy city. It helps improve the quality of life in your we've seen here, that can lead to more jobs.

I must say though.....we chose the quality option in the SBC Bricktown Ballpark. Originally, a 15,000+ seat facility was proposed. After price estimates came in way over budget, the number of seats was cut, while retaining quality architecture and amenities.

I guess it just depends on the use of the facility. I think we as a city made a wise choice with Ford Center, choosing seats over architecture. But, that's because or main purpose there was to try to attract major league sporting events and big concerts. But, we also made a wise choice with our ballpark, cutting the number of seats. We've had very few sell outs at SBC Bricktown Ballpark. So, adding 2,000-3,000 more seats probably wouldn't have been necessary.

09-30-2004, 03:03 AM
Also, the location of Tulsa's arena concerns me......everyone on Tulsa Now seems to be concerned about this as well. Seems to me, like the ideal location would be close to I-244 off the Oklahoma River......maybe it could jump start development on the west side of the river.

09-30-2004, 05:42 AM
Personally, I think the Ford Center looks pretty cool. It's not some architectural wonder, no. But, it's not a Kemper Arena either. Ech!

09-30-2004, 06:29 AM
I like that Tulsa is willing to think big here.

Or maybe it would be more appropriate to say they're thinking huge.

Oklahoma has a lot going for it. Our cities have to make up a lot of ground that our state government has lost.

09-30-2004, 10:43 AM
The arena location is interesting, to say the least. It's in a part of downtown very few people who are not panhandlers know much about. There's an ugly post office/federal building to the south, a bank drive-thru and housing project to the east, a huge HVAC facility and a warehouse to the west, and the Tulsa Co. Sheriff and some abandoned buildings along the railroad tracks to the north. The YMCA, Salvation Army, and homeless shelter are nearby.

The site is next to the convention center though and is a few blocks from the CBD and Main St. Mall. It's quite far from the exisiting downtown entertainment districts however. I think the only way for this site to be eventually successful is to have some of the buildings around it demolished and new buildings built in their place. Something that could distinguish this area from others downtown could be the use of modern architecture or the same materials as the arena in their designs. I wouldn't expect a lot of new development, but maybe a few restaurants, shops, and bars. A new hotel would be a big positive enhancement in this area. A renovated federal building in a modern style would be nice as well. A parking lot where there is currently post office parking will be turned into a tree-lined plaza, that's a small step in the right direction.

As far as connecting the arena and the surrounding "district" to the rest of downtown, I think the city should look into building a rail trolley system. It's very expensive, I know, but it would be an attraction in itself and would provide a link between the arena/convention center to the Brady District and OSU-Tulsa (going up Denver, and then down Brady), the Blue Dome District (going down Elgin from Brady), and then back to the arena down 3rd passing through the CBD and the PAC and the Main St. Mall. Thinkin' big here, but that's how you have to think when you're talking about revitalizing downtown Tulsa.

09-30-2004, 12:24 PM
One really big benefit that I can see for this site is that it is only 2 blocks from the Mayo hotel. The Chamber estimated that, if I recall correctly, at least 800 new hotel rooms would be needed downtown with the arena and expanded convention space. The site of the BOK drive in bank across the street from the site will likely be a hotel, and the other really should be a reopened Mayo. The owners of the Mayo have put a lot of effort into restoring the first two floors (which are currently used as meeting space) and have said they are just waiting for the right time to do the upper floors and reopen the hotel, well, here is the reason. The owners of the two current major downtown hotels are already spending millions to upgrade those hotels. Iíd love to see the Mayo rejoin them.

Additionally, I even have said I thought a better location would have been closer to the Blue Dome or the Brady District, but, seeing the sheer size of the building, it would have hurt these areas by being a huge dead zone when the building is not in use. If larger conventions can be had by putting the arena and convention space together, all the better. The better idea is to provide linkages between the different areas of downtown.

Tulsa does need a railed trolley system downtown. Iíve suggested this before myself. It would not take a major system to hit all of downtown from OSU Tulsa to Uptown. It would be even better if the system could be extended to also hit areas near downtown like: Cherry Street (.5 mile south of downtown), Brookside (2 miles south of Downtown), Utica Square (1.5 miles southeast of downtown), TU (2 miles east of downtown), Expo Square ( 2.5 miles east of downtown) and Riverparks (.5mile west of downtown). Central Tulsa has a lot to offer in a small space, and if it can be linked like this with a railed transit system with a resurgent downtown Tulsa could have a truly urban center.

10-03-2004, 11:46 PM
I actually went to Tulsa this weekend and browsed around the downtoan area on my trip. I'd never spent much time in downtown Tulsa before. One thing I noticed right off was a Saturday afternoon and downtown was dead! Reminds me of Oklahoma City several years ago. I took a look at the arena location. Putting it close to the convention center makes sense, but the area around there still concerns me. I guess OKC has just been blessed with having an entertainment district so close to everything. And also our arena is standing in the shadows of the CBD.
I thought about eating at the Denver Grill before they demolish it, but my fiancee refused to eat there, noting all of the homeless people walking around.

I also hadn't seen Brady District before. I took a look. Again, it reminds me of Bricktown many years ago. Not much down there right now, but it looks like it has some potential. And it wouldn't be too far from the arena! I'd put my money in that district! I didn't know where Blue Dome was but I'll check it out the next trip to Tulsa I make....probably a few months.

By the way, for those that may not know much about Tulsa, if you go stop on Casa Bonita to eat! We used to have one here....they're yummy! The one in Tulsa is at 21st and Sheridan. The atmosphere is great!

10-05-2004, 10:47 AM
Downtown Tulsa is pretty much dead unless it's 7-6 Monday-Friday or it's late Friday or Saturday night (and that's just the Blue Dome and Brady districts). We have a long way to go when it comes to revitalizing downtown. OKC has been working on theirs for 10 years now so they're obviously a lot further along because we are just beginning. I see a positive future though if we can get the right developers and investors and change the public's perception of downtown.

The arena is a step in the right direction because it will draw people to downtown, especially visitors. The area around the arena is in bad shape and will hopefully be improved in the years after the arena is built. We need more bars and entertainment in the Brady District, similar to Bricktown without the "touristy" feel and more art galleries and studios making it a living artist's community. The expansion of OSU-Tulsa (20,000 students by 2020) will be a huge factor in Brady and the areas north of downtown. Blue Dome already has several nightclubs, I would like to see more retail and residential in this area and connect this part of downtown to the emerging area around 6th and Peoria. I hope if the districts surrounding downtown prosper the CBD will as well, and we'll see more businesses having offices downtown. The key will be more offices and more residential, with some entertainment, restaurants, nightlife, and retail thrown in. I'd rather downtown be more of a neighborhood than a tourist attraction.

10-05-2004, 11:06 AM
Having seen the Brady District this past weekend for the first time, it seems like it has a lot of potential. Like I said, it reminds me a lot of Bricktown several years ago. Hopefully the arena will help. More projects in the future specifically targeting those districts might helps as well. I think the SBC Bricktown Ballpark and the Bricktown canal went a long ways to driving momentum in the Bricktown area. If it weren't for the Bricktown canal, we wouldn't have a new multiscreen theater, Bass Pro, etc. downtown today. I know a lot of people complain about how the city had to fork over use tax money to finance the Bass Pro Building. What a lot of people don't realize is just how difficult it is to get a retail shop to move into a downtown area that's dead much of the time. I think Bass Pro is a step in the right direction. With its success, hopefully other retailers will get the picture and move in. Since Bass Pro opened, we've already heard stories about a new Bricktown Market Place coming to the dictrict. In my opinion, that's a direct result of Hogan's development.

Tulsa just needs to invest in these two districts a little more. They need a major attraction to draw people in. Maybe not a canal like we have, but maybe Tulsa can come up with something more original.

I agree with you though BG......Brady would be better if mixed development was employed. It seems like Tulsa has done very well with its neighborhood districts like Cherry Street and Brookside. If the Brady and Blue Dome Districts could be developed in the same way, I think that would just add to the overall class of downtown Tulsa!

01-15-2005, 08:23 PM
I know this thread has been dusty for a while, but I just wanted to let y'all see what OU's College of Architecture brainstormed for Tulsa last year:

01-15-2005, 10:40 PM
I would be happy if only half of these projects happened in downtown Tulsa in the next 10 years!