Breaking New Ground in Oklahoma City

Everyone was invited as Oklahoma City residents broke ground on a brand-new convention center, part of a building boom that's remaking the city as a meeting destination.

Groundbreaking photo courtesy Oklahoma City CVB
A rendering of the Oklahoma City Convention Center, scheduled to be completed in 2020.

The confetti was flying in Oklahoma City earlier this month, as city officials ceremonially broke ground on the Oklahoma City Convention Center, an all-new $288-million center, which is scheduled to open in 2020 and will offer acres of modern and flexible space, including a 200,000-square-foot exhibit hall, a 30,000-square-foot ballroom, and 45,000 square feet of additional meeting space.  The project will be accompanied by a nearby 605-room headquarters hotel, and a 70-acre park, which will be developed across the street from the convention center, and a six-mile-long streetcar route that connects Oklahoma City’s downtown neighborhoods with the convention center, hotels, entertainment, retail shopping, museums, and parks.

Those wielding the shovels above included representatives from the Oklahoma City Council, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau, and city governance committees, along with Mayor David Holt.

But just out of the photo’s frame was a long row of additional shovels — and everyone who attended the groundbreaking ceremony was invited to, if they liked, grab a shovel and turn over a few spadefuls of dirt themselves.

The invitiation underlined remarks made by Mayor Holt at the groundbreaking: As much as the new convention center is being built for visitors to the city, it is for the people who live in the city, Holt said. The new building “is called a convention center — and I expect we will stick with that — but that really falls short of what happens in such a facility,” the mayor added. “It really is a modern town hall.  It is our meeting place, it is where we gather as a community. It won’t just be for visitors.” 

Also breaking ground were a contingent of Oklahoma City event professionals, representing production, audio-visual, and other events-related companies. 

DIY Groundbreaking: Representatives from Oklahoma City-based event companies Eventures, Inc., Toucan Production, and CNS Audio Video breaking

The new state-of-the-art convention facility will “spark a new era for Eventures and our industry partners,” said Whitney Tatum, president of Eventures, Inc., a 25-year-old event production company. “The new center will bring with it growth and expansion to kick off the next quarter century. We couldn’t be more pleased to grow along with our fine city.”

At the groundbreaking, the CVB also debuted 3D renderings that show the completed construction and improvements in downtown Oklahoma City: 

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.