BOK Center
The BOK Center, or Bank of Oklahoma Center, is a 19,100-seat multi-purpose arena and a primary indoor sports and event venue in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Designed to accommodate arena football, hockey, basketball, concerts, and similar events, the facility was built at a cost of $178 million in public funds and an additional $18 million in privately-funded upgrades. Ground was broken on August 31, 2005 and a ribbon cutting involving Tulsa musicians Garth Brooks and Hanson took place on August 30, 2008. The arena's schedule of concerts and other events began on August 31 with a community choir hosted by Sam Harris. Designed by Cesar Pelli, the architect of the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, the BOK Center is the flagship project of Tulsa County's Vision 2025 long-range development initiative. Local firm, MATRIX Architects Engineers Planners, Inc, is the architect and engineer of record. The arena is managed and operated by SMG and named for the Bank of Oklahoma, which purchased naming rights for $11 million. Current permanent tenants are the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League, the Tulsa Talons of the Arena Football League, and the Tulsa Shock of the Women's National Basketball Association, although the facility will host NBA preseason games and college basketball matchups on a regular basis and seek to attract national and regional sporting tournaments.

Cesar Pelli was asked by Tulsa city officials to create an arena that would be an architectural icon. To achieve this, Pelli employed cultural and architectural themes of the city, including Native American, art deco, and contemporary styles, making heavy use of swirling circular elements in the exterior and interior designs of the building. A 103-foot (31 m), 600-foot (180 m) long iconic glass facade featuring 1,600 350-pound panels wrap around the building in an escalating motion leaning at a five-degree angle. 33,000 stainless steel panels produced and installed by Zahner continue the upward spiraling path around the circumference of the structure. The interior follows the motion, with grand staircases that wrap around a portion of the building from the main lobby. In total, the building's design required 350,000 square feet (33,000 m 2) of exterior stainless steel panels, 75,000 square feet (7,000 m 2) of glass, 30,000 cubic yards (23,000 m 3) of concrete, and 4,000 tons of structural steel. The arena encompasses 565,000 square feet (52,500 m 2) and reaches a maximum height of 134 feet (41 m). Inside, the bowl area's ceiling rests 120 feet (37 m) over the base floor and a 930-foot (280 m)-long HD ribbon screen wraps around the three-level seating area. There are 17,343 fixed seats, each ranging from 20 inches (510 mm) to 22 inches (560 mm) wide " an average width greater than the industry standard, including that of the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. Actual capacity fluctuates with configuration patterns, and total seating can vary from 13,644 to 19,199 " 13,644 for partial-use concerts, 16,582 for arena football, 17,096 for hockey, 17,839 for basketball, and 19,199 for center stage concerts. The bowl area's second floor, an exclusive carpeted level with a complete bar, houses press areas and 37 luxury suites, each with 15 22-inch (560 mm) seats and furnished gathering and kitchen areas. In the main concourse, more than 130,000 square feet (12,000 m 2) of terrazzo flooring has aggregate that contains 70 percent mother of pearl. Private funding exceeded original forecasts, and unexpected increases in revenue from corporate sponsorships, donations, and purchases of box seats and luxury boxes paid for an advanced light display for the glass wall that wraps around the front of the building and the scoreboard.

The BOK Center holds 37 public restrooms " 12 men’s restrooms, 16 women’s restrooms and 9 family restrooms " with 300 toilets and urinals. Dressing rooms with wooden lockers, hydrotherapy and workout rooms, a players lounge, locker rooms for game officials, and office space for coaches, trainers, and equipment managers are also located within the building. The arena's hanging scoreboard, considered one of the most advanced in the country, is suspended above the arena floor and measures 50,000-pounds and 30-by-33-feet, making use of four 8-by-14-foot HD screens, four 8-by-8 foot HD screens, a wrap-around 9-foot (2.7 m) HD screen, and another 3-foot (0.91 m) wrap-around HD screen. Designed by Forty Forty Agency and manufactured by Daktronics, it was built with $3.6 million in private donations, with some funds going toward an advanced video recording system. There are 14 concession outlets, seven of which belong to Tulsa-area restaurants that supplement typical arena food. As of June 2008, partial restaurant branches within the building are In the Raw ( sushi), Billy's On the Square ( American fast-casual), Oklahoma Style BBQ, Ike's Chili BBQ, Rubicon Restaurant ( baked potato specialty), Mazzio's Italian Eatery, and Borden Dairy (milkshakes, ice cream). General concessions serve Mexican food, chicken tender baskets, philly cheesesteaks, hot dogs, corn dogs, chili cheese fries, bratwurst, Panini sandwiches, and dessert items. Nearly $1.5 million was allocated to artwork within the building in light of a city ordinance mandating that at least one percent of construction costs for any municipal project be used for public art. Tulsa's Arts Commission selected five artists out of nearly 300 applicants to decorate the interior of the building with the intention of capturing the spirit of the city and state. Of their pieces, the largest is a cloud-like cloth sculpture designed by Kendell Buster that weighs 5,000 pounds and hangs above the main concourse. Four 22-foot (6.7 m) Native American medallions designed by Bill and Demos Glass decorate the main concourse floor, along with a series of 25 paintings of tallgrass prairie landscapes created by Mark Lewis that adorn a wall on the main lobby's third level. A 9-by-24-foot black-and-white painting of rearing horses created by Joe Andoe hangs on a wall near a concession stand on the north side of the building, and a light display created by Jenny Holzer is also within the arena.

Ownership and management
The city of Tulsa owns the arena but has a five-year management contract worth $950,000 with SMG property management, the largest arena manager in the world. SMG, which also manages the nearby Tulsa Convention Center in addition to the Oklahoma City Arena and Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, employs more than 70 full-time workers and 400 part-time workers in Tulsa and assumes the building's annual operations cost of $6,267,752. As of the arena's grand opening, John Bolton is its manager.

A campaign promise by former Tulsa mayor Bill LaFortune to hold a municipal planning conference was fulfilled within months of taking office in 2002. Although tax packages for arenas were rejected by voters in 1997 and 2000, a third plan for a downtown arena was the brainchild of the conference, along with dozens of other projects throughout Tulsa County, including a renovation of the nearby Tulsa Convention Center costing $42 million. Vision 2025, a tax initiative increasing sales taxes by six-tenths of a cent over 13 years, was approved by voters in September 2003. Pelli's design was released in September 2004 and construction began in August 2005. Tulsa Vision Builders, a joint project of Tulsa-based Flintco and Manhattan Construction, was chosen to build the arena. Its original budget was deemed $141 million, but increases in the cost of structural steel, concrete, and labor due to Hurricane Katrina and a robust local economy pushed the cost to $178 million in 2006. An additional $18 million in private funding was used in miscellaneous upgrades, bringing the total cost of the arena to $196 million.

Event history
The first announced concert was on September 6, 2008 and featured The Eagles. Since its grand opening, the BOK Center has hosted many big-name acts such as Billy Joel and Elton John, Kenny Chesney, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Celine Dion, Brad Paisley, Dane Cook and Jonas Brothers. The Eagles also scheduled a rare second performance at the BOK Center after their first concert sold out in 35 minutes. In late 2008, BOK Center manager John Bolton was given Venues Today's "Hall of Headlines" award after a poll of venue managers, owners, operators and bookers determined that Bolton had the highest level of success in booking high-quality performances among international venues in 2008. On October 13, 2008, the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder played the Houston Rockets in its first preseason game since leaving Seattle for Oklahoma and was the first major sporting event at the BOK Center. As of August 2008, the Thunder was seeking to play preseason games annually in Tulsa, although the number of games had not been determined. The BOK Center is home to two semi-pro and one professional sports teams. The Tulsa Oilers ice hockey team of the Central Hockey League, the Tulsa Talons Arena Football League team, and beginning in May 2010, the Tulsa Shock of the Women's National Basketball Association, previously known as the Detroit Shock, which relocated from Detroit following end of the 2009 season , all play their home games at the BOK Center. In its short existence, the arena has scored two notable opportunities to host men's college basketball games, the first being in March 2010, as the Conference USA Men's Basketball Tournament was held there. The BOK Center later hosted second and third round games in the NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship on March 18 and 20, 2011. The Professional Bull Riders began hosting Built Ford Tough Series events at the BOK Center in 2009, after having previously occupied the Tulsa Convention Center.

Notable event facts
Paul McCartney performed on August 17. The event launched the "One Year Birthday" celebration of the venue. The stop in Tulsa was McCartney's first in Oklahoma since 2002 and was the only arena show of his 2009 Summer Tour. WWE Smackdown/ ECW tapings were held on September 22, 2009 which was the first WWE event at the BOK Center. There was over 10,000 people which broke a record for most people at a WWE event at the BOK Center. The BOK Center hosted WWE Raw on July 19, 2010, this was the first televised Raw in Tulsa since 1997. WWE then returned to do a Smackdown recording there on January 18, 2011.

Concert sellouts
  • The Eagles - September 6, 2008
  • Paul McCartney - August 17, 2009
  • George Strait & Reba McEntire - February 20, 2010
  • Nickelback - April 24, 2010
  • Brooks & Dunn - May 28, 2010
  • Justin Bieber - July 6, 2010
  • Lady Gaga - April 4, 2010; The Monster Ball Tour

Impact and reception
Tulsa's downtown was the site of projects anchored by the BOK Center, including a $42 million renovation of the Tulsa Convention Center, a $20 million renovation of downtown streets, a $4 million renovation and expansion of a nearby parking garage, streetscape improvements, and art deco-style signs directing visitors to parking garages, public buildings, specialty districts, and entertainment venues. The arena is expected to host 148 major and minor events in its first year, which are anticipated to generate $1.5 million in tax revenue and $92 million in economic impact. SMG is expected to earn $6,553,250 in revenue, giving it a $285,498 annual profit. In its first four months of operation, the BOK Center's ticket sales were nearly enough to reach Venues Today's top 20 worldwide rankings for total ticket sales in 2008 among venues seating 15,001-30,000. The arena reached $20 million in sales in 2008 and is projected to surpass at least $30 million in 2009, which would put it within the top 15 worldwide in sales according to the 2008 rankings. The arena won Facilities Magazine's Prime Site Award in 2008, which is based on opinions from representatives in the site selection industry, booking agents, promoters, talent buyers, and special event planners, who judge based on location, functionality, technical capabilities, quality of staff, food and beverage, lighting, sound, and staging. The arena was also one of four venues nominated for Pollstar's 2008 "Best New Major Concert Venue" award, which is set to be decided in January 2009. In its first three months of operation, the facility was featured or set to be featured in at least four major venue publications, including Venues Today, which gave its 2008 "Hall of Headlines" award to BOK Center manager John Bolton after a poll of venue managers, owners, operators and bookers determined that Bolton had the highest level of success worldwide in booking high-quality performances in 2008. In late 2008, a survey of BOK Center visitors found that 96.7 percent felt the building's overall impression, staff, concessions, merchandise, and traffic flow were favorable. The flowing design and acoustic properties of the BOK Center have been praised by Tulsa Vision Builders, Tulsa city officials, and Garth Brooks. Officials from Flintco and Manhattan Construction have called the BOK Center one of the best architectural designs in their 100-year histories of building projects. The companies have worked on Cowboys Stadium, Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, Gallagher-Iba Arena at Oklahoma State University, the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee, and stadium renovations at the University of Oklahoma and OSU, among other projects. City officials have praised Pelli for the design, and Brooks, who held a 2007 concert at Kansas City's new Sprint Center, said at the BOK Center's grand opening, "You guys have got (the Sprint Center) beat hands down. It houses as many people, yet it's warm and small. It's as beautiful and grand as any place I've played." Pelli reacted to the arena's completion by saying that it had taken a "life of its own" since he designed the building, but that the results were exciting and impressed him. He said the building has taken a form that pays tribute to Tulsa's art deco, the nearby Arkansas River, and the city's American Indian history, and anticipated that it would be a major catalyst for private development in Tulsa's downtown.

Downtown Tulsa is served by an inner dispersal loop formed by Interstate 244, U.S. Route 64, U.S. Route 412, and U.S. Route 75, which connect to Interstate 44. Tulsa International Airport is located 8 miles (13 km) northeast of the area. City officials estimate there are 12,000 parking spaces within a 10-minute walk of the BOK Center, and shuttle and tour bus services operate within downtown Tulsa during major events. Through a program instituted by the Tulsa Convention and Visitors Bureau, 50 guides are stationed within dozens of blocks of the arena during major events to help with parking and provide general information about shuttle services, events, and downtown Tulsa. Although streets bordering the back entrance of the arena are closed to automobile traffic during events to create a staging area for crews, other bordering streets are open to shuttles, tour buses, limousines, and handicap drop-off vehicles.

See Also
  • Tulsa Olympics

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