OKC Fairgrounds Needs a New Coliseum
The Jim Norick Arena has served Oklahoma City well, hosting 54 years of state basketball tournaments, countless concerts and the world’s most
prestigious equestrian events.
The Big House and fairgrounds play a key role in our city’s economic development, drawing visitors from every corner of our state and around the globe.
However, the building is rapidly nearing the end of its useful life.
To ensure the OKC Fairgrounds remain home to economically and emotionally vital events, it is time to build a state-of-the-art coliseum to replace The Big House.
A brand-new coliseum will improve the annual Great State Fair of Oklahoma, create new dreams for Oklahoma athletes and ensure Oklahoma City
remains "The Horse Show Capital of the World."
It’s time to create new memories in a modern, first-class building.
The OKC Fairgrounds – including the Jim Norick Arena – is a major economic driver in Oklahoma City. How important? The OKC Fairgrounds generate more economic benefit than the Cox Convention Center, Chesapeake Energy Arena and Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark combined.
An economic study found:
- 1.1 million – Annual visitors to the Jim Norick Arena
- $211.5 million – Direct spending by Big House visitors
- 10% – Expected increase in direct spending with a new coliseum
- $408 million – Expected total economic annual impact of a new facility
- 370 – New jobs a new coliseum will create
Frequently Asked Questions
Why can’t we save the Jim Norick Arena?
The average lifecycle for a public event facility is 30 to 40 years. The coliseum has already lasted much longer than expected, and it will only get more expensive and nearly impossible to maintain. Oklahoma City and its visitors deserve a first-class experience in a modern coliseum.
How much will a new coliseum cost?
Current plans call for a $95 million construction budget. We hope Oklahoma City voters will approve a MAPS4 package which includes money for this vital project. If they do, sales taxes will not increase from current levels.
Why do taxpayers have to help with this?
Oklahoma State Fair, Inc., which manages the park, does not have the bonding capacity required for an iconic project of this size. Because the new coliseum will generate additional revenue for businesses and government in Oklahoma City, taxpayers will see a strong return on their investment through MAPS4 and will enjoy a brand-new facility for events they already attend.
What happens if we don’t build a new coliseum?
If Oklahoma City does not invest in a replacement for the Jim Norick Arena, we risk losing major equestrian events to markets which have upgraded their facilities. Long-term contracts could leave, which would create huge vacancies at hotels and damage retail and restaurant sales.
Because the arena is quickly becoming obsolete, local events such as high school sports tournaments could also move to more modern facilities.
What will the new coliseum be like?
Plans call for a modern coliseum with more than 4,700 fixed seats, 2,600 retractable seats and premium amenities such as suites, box seating and club opportunities. We will create a first-class experience for all events. Click here to view a video rendering.
What’s the timeline for this project?
Our portion of the MAPS 4 Implementation Plan has been approved by City Council and the construction contract should go out for bid and be awarded in August 2022. Current plans call for construction to begin in late September, after the 2022 Oklahoma State Fair ends on September 25. Construction is slated to be completed by September 2024.
Where will events be held during construction?
The Jim Norick Arena will remain open during construction of a new coliseum. When the new facility opens, we will say a fond farewell to the Big House. A warm-up area will be built in its place.
Isn’t this asking Oklahoma City residents to fund a facility used mostly by outsiders?
The Big House is popular with tourists and locals. Oklahoma City residents rely on the existing arena for State Fair events, high school state championships, graduations and many other activities.
Plus, an economic study found events other than the State Fair generate more than $225 million in direct spending a year. That money goes to local businesses and pays for a wide variety of city services through sales and other taxes. If the new coliseum is part of the expected MAPS4 package, residents will not pay any more in sales tax than they do now. But they will enjoy the financial and cultural benefits of a brand-new building.
Why can’t the OKC Fairgrounds revive favorite attractions like the Space Tower, the arch or the speedway?
Building a new coliseum is a critical, immediate need because the existing arena is so close to the end of its useful life, and because it is so important for Oklahoma City’s economy. We must tackle the issue of antiquated, soon-to-be-unsafe facilities before we address other issues.