Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The question NOT asked

It's funny that right now, the convention center subcommittee of the MAPS3 Committee is meeting and they are going to make a very big decision that will impact downtown and Oklahoma City for a long time to come, as they name the location of the new convention center, a Phase 1 investment of $280 Million (Phase 2 I believe will make it approach $400 M). But it's really funny because there's a really important question that was never asked at any point during this process, and is probably not going to be asked today.

What is the best convention center for the REST of OKC, that doesn't revolve around the convention center?? They never considered that a convention center could possibly be less than ideal for any of these sites. We have proper analysis based on what is good for the convention center and for the convention attendees, and tons of studies done on that, tons of debating was done, great questions were asked. But I contend that is 1% of what should have been considered.

The other 99% of the puzzle that they totally ignored or didn't care about was the rest of OKC that won't go into that convention center. They didn't consider what was best for the park. Best for Core2Shore. Best for downtown retail. Best for downtown housing. Best for downtown nightlife. Best for downtown in general. They looked at this solely from the perspective of what is best for conventions, and that's it.

So ladies and gentlemen, here you have it. The #1 priority of MAPS3 and for all of downtown, our entire downtown investment strategy, is based on conventions. For better or for worse, this is the concept that we are using as the basis for the future downtown. Let's just rename it the Convention Center District right now, because that's the most important thing.

If not, we would have considered other things. Hard to argue otherwise. Maybe they would have considered at some point where the convention center would have best fit into an overall downtown masterplan that puts all of these huge investments and projects into one plan. Why can't we do that?!?


David said...

Google Haywood Sanders, he asks a better question, do convention centers ever really do what the promoters say they will do? For a long time now the answer is almost always, no. Lots of money. Maybe a better question is not where should it be, but should it be?

NR said...

Well, I would definitely acknowledge your side of the argument, David. The thing though is that what we need above all is good governance and this convention center was already part of a pact with voters, and that pact has to be upheld.

But it's important to make sure that all of the projects are held with the utmost deliberations and public scrutiny. The components should benefit each other, not hurt each other, which this convention center can do to a downtown.

I agree though that a convention center is not the best priority, it is however part of the compromise to move the city forward with more progressive investments. So it should be the last item, no doubt.