BOK Center

BOK Center

Infobox Stadium
stadium_name = BOK Center
nickname =

location = 200 South Denver Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A.
broke_ground = August 31, 2005
opened = August 30, 2008
closed =
owner = City of Tulsa
operator = Spectacor Management Group
construction_cost = $196 Million
architect = César Pelli
tenants = Tulsa Oilers (CHL) (2008–present)
Tulsa Talons (af2) (2008–present)
seating_capacity=Central Stage: 19,199
Basketball: 17,839
Hockey: 17,096
Arena Football: 16,582 End Stage: 13,644

The BOK Center, or Bank of Oklahoma Center, is a 19,199-seat multi-purpose arena and the 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. [Cite news|url= | title=Garth Brooks to cut ribbon at BOK Center opening | first=Brian | last=Barber | publisher="Tulsa World" | date=2008-07-07 | accessdate=2008-07-12] The arena's schedule of concerts and other events began on August 31 with a community choir hosted by Sam Harris. [cite web | date=2008-08-01 | url= | title= Multifaith Celebration| publisher=SMG | accessdate=2008-09-02]

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. [Cite news|url= | title=Vision 2025: Tulsa combination lands arena contract | first=P.J. | last=Lassek | publisher="Tulsa World" | date=2004-02-11 | accessdate=2008-10-10] The arena is managed and operated by SMG and named for the Bank of Oklahoma, which purchased naming rights for $11 million. [cite news | date=2005-10-28 | url=| title= Tulsa’s BOK Center
publisher="Tulsa Today" | accessdate=2008-09-02
] Current permanent tenants are the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League and the Tulsa Talons of the af2 league, 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. [cite web | year=2006 | url=| title= Arena Schematic Design Presented| publisher=Vision 2025 | accessdate=2007-05-07] cite web | url=| title= BOK Center Highlights| publisher=SMG | accessdate=2008-09-02] To achieve this, Pelli employed cultural and architectural themes of the city, including Native American, art deco, and contemporary styles, [cite news | date=2004-09-28 | url=| title= Leaders praise arena design| first = Brian | last = Barber| publisher= "Tulsa World" | accessdate=2007-05-07] making heavy use of swirling circular elements in the exterior and interior designs of the building.cite news | date=2008-07-24 | url=| title= Pelli's arena grows up | first = Brian | last = Barber| publisher= "Tulsa World" | accessdate=2008-08-30] A 103-foot, 600-foot long iconic glass facade featuring 1,600 350-pound panels wraps around the building in an escalating motion leaning at a five-degree angle, with 33,000 steel panels continuing the upward spiraling path around the circumference of the structure. [cite news | date=2007-12-06 | url=| title= Pane-staking work: Glass goes onto arena wall | first = Brian | last = Barber| publisher= "Tulsa World" | accessdate=2008-08-30] 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 of exterior metal panels, 75,000 square feet of glass, 30,000 cubic yards of concrete, and 4,000 tons of structural steel.

The arena encompasses 565,000 square feet and reaches a maximum height of 134 feet. Inside, the bowl area's ceiling rests 120 feet over the base floor and a 930-foot-long HD ribbon screen wraps around the three-level seating area. There are 17,343 fixed seats, each ranging from 20 inches to 22 inches 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.Cite web|url= |publisher="Tulsa World" |title=Inside BOK Center Capacity|format=pdf|accessdate=2008-08-30] 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 seats and furnished gathering and kitchen areas. In the main concourse, more than 130,000 square feet of terrazzo flooring has aggregate that contains 70 percent mother of pearl.Cite web |url= |publisher="Tulsa World" |title=Inside the BOK center|format=pdf|accessdate=2008-08-30] 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 facility. [cite web |url= |publisher=SMG |title=Tulsa Talons will Play at the BOK Center|date=2007-10-23 |accessdate=2008-08-30] 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 HD screen, and another 3-foot 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.cite news |url= |publisher="Tulsa World" |title=Arena sign scores big for the city |first=Brian |last=Barber |date=2008-06-19 |accessdate=2008-07-12]

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, Te Kei's (upscale Asian), 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. [Cite news |url= |title=Local food on menu at BOK Center |first=Brian |last=Barber |publisher="Tulsa World" |date=2008-06-29 |accessdate=2008-07-12]

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 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, [cite news |url=|publisher="Tulsa World" |title=Artists enliven BOK's interior |first=Brian |last=Barber |date=2008-08-24 |accessdate=2008-08-30] 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 and the Ford 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. John Bolton is the arena's current manager.cite news | url=| title=Management boasts experience | publisher="Tulsa World"| date=2008-08-24 | first=Brian|last=Barber|accessdate=2008-08-30 ]


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.cite news | url=| title= BOK Center an icon of Tulsa| publisher="Tulsa World"|date=2008-08-24|first=Brian|last=Barber|accessdate=2008-08-30 ]

Tulsa Vision Builders, a joint project of Tulsa-based Flintco and Manhattan Construction, was chosen to build the arena.Cite news |url= |publisher="Tulsa World" |title=Arena product of joint effort|first=Brian |last=Barber |date=2008-08-24 |accessdate=2008-08-30] 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. [cite news | date=2007-08-27 | url=| title=BOK Construction progressing on new Tulsa arena| publisher=KFOR-TV| accessdate=2008-09-02] [cite news | date=2007-06-13 | url=| title=BOK Center Construction: Officials see new arena's grand scale| publisher="Tulsa World" | first=Brian | last=Barber| accessdate=2007-06-13] An additional $18 million in private funding was used in miscellaneous upgrades, bringing the total cost of the arena to $196 million.Cite news |url= |publisher="Tulsa World" |title=Private money provided upgrades|first=Brian |last=Barber |date=2008-08-24 |accessdate=2008-08-30]

Events and tenants

The first announced concert was on September 6, 2008 and featured The Eagles. More than 30 major concerts and events were confirmed as of September 2008, including Janet Jackson, Kenny Chesney, Leann Rimes, the American Idol Tour, Lil Wayne, Rascal Flatts, Neil Diamond, Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Casting Crowns, The Harlem Globetrotters, Jeff Dunham, and Cirque du Soleil. The Eagles also scheduled a rare second performance at the BOK Center after their first concert sold out in 35 minutes. [cite news | url=| title=Eagles to perform at BOK Center again in November | publisher="Tulsa World"| date=2008-08-26 | first=Jennifer |last=Chancellor |accessdate=2008-08-30]

On October 13, the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder is scheduled to play the Houston Rockets in its first preseason game in Oklahoma since leaving Seattle and the first major sporting event at the BOK Center. [cite news | url= | title=Oklahoma City NBA team will play first in-state game in Tulsa | publisher="Tulsa World" | accessdate=2008-08-11 | date=2008-08-11] As of August 2008, the team was seeking to regularly play preseason games in Tulsa, although the number of annual games has not been determined. [cite news | url=| title=BOK Center could host more exhibition games| publisher="Tulsa World"| date=2008-07-03 | accessdate=2008-07-03 ] The BOK Center also hosts the Tulsa Oilers ice hockey team and the Tulsa Talons af2 team.

Impact and reception

Tulsa's downtown was the subject of projects spawned from the anchoring 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. [cite news | url=| title=Finishing touches still to go| publisher="Tulsa World"| date=2008-08-24 | first=Brian|last=Barber|accessdate=2008-08-30 ] 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. [cite web | url=;category=tulsaregionalconventioneventscenter| title=Project: BOK Center| publisher=Tulsa County|accessdate=2008-08-30 ] SMG is expected to earn $6,553,250 in revenue, giving it a $285,498 annual profit.

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 the Dallas Cowboys New Stadium (currently unnamed) in Arlington, Texas, 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, a resident of a Tulsa suburb, Owasso, said: "You guys have got (the new Sprint Center in Kansas City) 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." [cite news | url=| title= Not now, says Garth|publisher="Tulsa World"| first=Brian|last=Barber|date=2008-07-08|accessdate=2008-08-30 ]

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. [cite news | url=| title= Ins and outs of parking |publisher="Tulsa World"|date=2008-08-24|first=P. J.|last=Lassek|accessdate=2008-09-02]


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Link to Webcam Construction Progress]
* [ Link to Tulsa World coverage]

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