Widgets Magazine
  • Detailed look at proposed State Fair Coliseum

    As we were first to report in August 2016, the board of the state fairgrounds commissioned a study by consultants Populous to determine the feasibility and cost to construct a new multi-purpose facility to replace the aging Jim Norick Arena.

    Norick Arena seats 8,500 in its typical configuration but can accommodate up to 11,000. Originally named the State Fairgrounds Arena, it opened in 1965.

    The current facility received a renovation and slight expansion as part of the first MAPS initiative in the 1990s.

    The City of Oklahoma City has used Populous to assist in the site selection and design of the MAPS 3 Convention Center and also commissioned other studies from the Kansas City-based firm, which has had a hand in dozens of arenas, ballparks and stadiums around the world.

    As the vote for MAPS 4 approaches later this year, Mayor David Holt has mentioned this particular project may be included.

    As proposed, the new arena would sit slightly southeast of the present arena site and be completely new from the ground up. It would also be attached to the new livestock barns that were recently added as part of MAPS 2 and directly across from the new Expo Building, which was recently completed as part of MAPS 3.

    The plans drawn by Populous and ADG also call for a small horse/livestock arena to be built between the existing barns and the new facility, along with more barn and multi-purpose space.

    Other features include two large plazas, suites, and retractable upper-level seating. A lounge and restaurants are also part of the proposal.

    Flexibility would allow for the easy configuration for equestrian/rodeo with a capacity of 5,500 to basketball, circus, ice shows and concerts that could host over 9,000 attendees.

    A phased construction plan would allow Norick Arena to remain operational during the construction of the Coliseum.

    The established budget is just over $96 million. The Populous study claims an annual economic impact of $330 million.

    If the plan becomes part of a MAPS 4 vote, it would do so against a background of public backlash surrounding several recent demolitions at State Fair Park, including the landmark Space Needle which came down late last year. Concern has also been raised about similar removals of the monorail and speedway, as many see the park as eliminating sentimental favorites in favor of equine and livestock facilities.

    The State Fair Park is operated by Oklahoma State Fair, Inc. on behalf of the City of Oklahoma City, which owns all the property and buildings. Board meetings of Oklahoma State Fair, Inc. are not public, nor is detailed financial information.

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