Oklahoma City Council Approves Preliminary Plans for New Convention Center

The Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City opened in 1972. Forty-five years later, it's really showing its age. Fortunately, a replacement is on the way, according to the Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau, which announced yesterday that the Oklahoma City Council has approved preliminary plans for a new convention center immediately south of and adjacent to the city's Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Scheduled to break ground later this year, with a projected opening in 2020, the $288 million venue will feature 200,000 square feet of exhibit space and 45,000 square feet of meeting space, including 27 individual meeting rooms across three levels. Each meeting room will offer informational meeting spaces in the adjacent pre-function space outside. On the first level, 18 loading docks and two drive-in ramps will provide for easy load-in to the four exhibit hall bays. Additionally, a 30,000-plus-square-foot ballroom is planned, as is an interactive wayfinding system to help convention attendees navigate the facility.

"The approval of the preliminary report gets Oklahoma City closer to attracting new meetings and conventions to Oklahoma City," said Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau President Mike Carrier. "This is a convention center the city can be proud of, because they have invested in it and their community. The preliminary report approval has us moving in the right direction and on to the next steps in the final design and requesting bids from contractors."

The project is being funded by a 1-cent sales tax initiative that began in April 2010 and ends in December 2017. The same fund is financing a 70-acre park next to the future convention center -- where there will be a lake, a café, and nature walks -- as well as a new streetcar system that will connect important districts in and around downtown.

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