One year down, many events to go for OKC's new convention center

·3 min read
The new Convention Center provides a backdrop in 2021 as a couple walks along a sidewalk at Scissortail Park.
The new Convention Center provides a backdrop in 2021 as a couple walks along a sidewalk at Scissortail Park.

From cheer competitions and career fairs to hemp industry conferences and the State of the City address, the Oklahoma City Convention Center has played host to a diverse series of events in its first year of operation.

The convention center, which opened its doors last year on Jan. 14, has seen more than 111,000 visitors over the course of 128 events in its inaugural year.

And in its young tenure, the building has been the site for events that officials estimate brought in just over $15 million into Oklahoma City's economy in 2021.

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“ASM Global, as the operator of the Oklahoma City Convention Center, is incredibly proud to have welcomed both local and national events through our doors,” said Al Rojas, general manager of the convention center.

A police officer walks through the Exhibit Hall in the new OKC Convention Center.
A police officer walks through the Exhibit Hall in the new OKC Convention Center.

The spacious building in downtown Oklahoma City near Scissortail Park is made up of meeting spaces, convention halls and a ballroom to accommodate both local and national events.

In 2021, the center played host to notable annual events such as the Oklahoma FFA State Convention and the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association conference and trade show.

Crowds move in and out of the entrance to the Junior Ballroom at the new OKC Convention Center.
Crowds move in and out of the entrance to the Junior Ballroom at the new OKC Convention Center.

A MAPS 3 project, the convention center was completed in 2020 at the cost of $288 million.

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And along with the completion of that project, the convention center also received an artistic upgrade with an 18-by-18-foot painting that now is on display on the center's third floor.

The work titled, "Beautiful Mystical Exploding Sun Clouds Taste Metallic Gift Painting," was created in 2010 by The Flaming Lips front man Wayne Coyne and internationally renowned artist Damien Hirst.

For the painting, which is too big to hang from nearly every wall, the space was a perfect match.

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"That doesn't sound big on the colossal scale of 20-story buildings or whatever, but when you think about it there's not a room that we could find that we could put it in," Coyne said. "For a little while we had it hanging on the ceiling, but no one noticed it on the ceiling and that kind of took away its power."

Moving forward, the convention center is poised to continue hosting a plethora of events, but it is hard to know if those events will end up being affected by the ongoing pandemic.

Regardless, this year the center has already seen performances by Oklahoma Honor Choirs and in the coming weeks will play host to the OKC Gymnastics Invitational Classic and cheerleading's American Spirit Championships National Finals.

“There is a definite demand in our space and interest in OKC as a destination. We are not slowing down. 2022 is shaping up to be an amazing year,” Rojas said.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OKC Convention Center hosts 128 events in its first year of operation

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