A key vote for a proposed OU Arena has been delayed by the Norman City Council, affecting the timeline for the project.
The arena could potentially house University of Oklahoma basketball, and is part of a broader proposal from the OU Foundation that calls for the venue to anchor a surrounding development that includes entertainment areas. The project would take place in the north section of University North Park in Norman, and would be backed in part by tax increment financing revenues.
The Norman City Council was slated to vote on the proposal on August 28, but the council opted on Tuesday night to hold off on sending it to a TIF statutory review committee. That effectively delays the August vote, a vote that the OU Foundation was calling for to help secure private capital for the project. Despite the delay, the OU Foundation insists that the project is not dead, while council members expressed their desire to receive more information on the economics of the proposal before proceeding with the next step. More from the Norman Transcript:
“We had a very firm deadline of the end of August,” [OU Foundation spokesperson Chip Carter] said. “Schedule wise that isn’t going to be possible. But the foundation is not pulling the plug today. That is simply not happening. We’ve got to figure out what we can do and how far we can go.
“Numerous community supporters contacted us [Wednesday] saying ‘please continue.’ They believe in the development and its benefits to Norman and they want us to continue to try to find a way to make it happen.”
After a presentation Tuesday by Thomas Hazinski, who leads the consulting practice of HVS, a firm recently hired by the city to analyze existing reports and projections on the project, many council members said they still would like to see an economic impact study before going any further.
Hazinski said there has been confusion about the studies and what they show. He questioned some of the methods and conclusions, but highlighted the positives of targeted investment and said the arena would definitely attract outside dollars to Norman.
Plans for the development include the 10,000-seat OU arena, plus an entertainment district, hotel, expo center, offices, park areas, residential units, and more. If the proposal is to move forward and the arena is used by OU, it would replace Lloyd Noble Center as the home of the university’s basketball programs.