What’s New: Oklahoma

A rendering of the lawn at a Gathering Place for Tulsa.

Largest Event Space in Oklahoma Opens in OKC

The official ribbon cutting took place this past January for the 290,000 square-foot Bennett Event Center at State Fair Park. The first event to be hosted in the Bennett Event Center was the Oklahoma Home + Garden Show January 20-22. The new building offers, among other amenities, 200,000 square feet of contiguous floor space.

The Expo Center offers current State Fair Park clients the ability to expand and enhance their events, while bringing new national and international shows to Oklahoma. The building is the largest event space in Oklahoma City.

In hotel news, the 21c Museum Hotels’ redevelopment of downtown Oklahoma City’s historic Fred Jones Building opened in June. The 97-year-old, four story brick building was built by Henry Ford as a Model T assembly plant. The update of this iconic industrial building includes 135 hotel rooms, a contemporary art museum and restaurant and bar inspired by regional culinary traditions – Mary Eddy’s Kitchen.

Three new hotels are being built at the east end of Bricktown — OKC’s Entertainment District: Hyatt Place (132 rooms) and one of the country’s first AC hotels (130 rooms), along with 137 room Staybridge Suites.

For watersport enthusiasts, whitewater rafting facility Riversport Rapids ( opened in OKC’s Boathouse District in May 2016. The course is one of only six man made white water courses in the country, and approximately 2,000 people are able to raft in a single day, making RIVERSPORTS Rapids one of the largest rafting facilities in the world. The facility provides rafting and kayaking for all levels of users, from novice to Olympic Champion.

Riversport Rapids is part of the growing Oklahoma City Boathouse District which serves as the training site for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic training site for canoe and kayak. The city’s Entertainment District, Bricktown, is also walking distance to the RIVERSPORT Rapids — making it the only urban whitewater rafting facility in the world.

‘Gather’ in Tulsa

A momentous transformation along Tulsa’s riverfront is underway as 100 acres are being turned into a world-class park. George Kaiser Family Foundation is leading the effort and is collaborating with NYC-based renowned landscape architect Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates to design the unique park, which will contain 8+ miles of sidewalks, paths and nature trails, plus nearly 17 acres of wildflower gardens.

A Gathering Place for Tulsa ( will include experiences for all ages. The park includes several amenities like a 5-acre Adventure Playground, Mist Mountain water feature, sport courts, bike and skate parks, natural trails, a boathouse and large lawns for concerts. Substantial completion of the 66.5-acre first phase of the park will be December 2017.

Sources: Visit OKC, A Gathering Place for Tulsa

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