On Tuesday, the OU Foundation withdrew its tax increment financing (TIF) proposal for a new OU arena and surrounding development.
Under a proposal floated by the foundation, a new arena would be constructed to house University of Oklahoma basketball and anchor a surrounding development that includes entertainment areas. The project was pitched to take place in the north section of University North Park in Norman, and would be backed in part by TIF revenues.
That plan was met with skepticism from some members of the Norman City Council, and it was uncertain whether it had enough support from that body to move forward. That was especially crucial given the remaining steps in the process, as the council would have had to vote to send it a TIF statutory review committee and then eventually weigh in with a final decision on the proposal. The vote to refer the plan to the committee was scheduled for Tuesday, but the OU Foundation ultimately had its request to withdraw the item from the agenda approved by the council.
That decision does not rule the possibility of future development, but does end discussions over the OU arena TIF proposal with the Norman City Council. More from the Norman Transcript:
Though Mayor Lynne Miller said it appears the the proposal is “dead,” Tuesday’s result doesn’t mean the end of the OU Foundation’s arena aspirations.
“The vision of an arena and entertainment district, as shown in the master plan by CallisonRTKL is still alive and the foundation has every expectation of continuing to pursue it,” OU Foundation spokesperson Chip Carter said. “What has changed is that we agreed to not pursue TIF funding for this city council.
“I think it’s important that we show the half of the community that is excited about this that we’re not quitting.”
The vote to withdraw the item wasn’t unanimous. Council members Joe Carter, Bill Hickman and Sereta Wilson voted against the measure in a 5-3 vote on the grounds that they wanted to see closure. They didn’t see the foundation’s withdrawal as the end of the saga and some weren’t shy about expressing their desire to see the deal formally quashed.
The land is controlled by the foundation, so it will have the option to present another plan at some point down the road. In the proposal that had been floated, the 10,000-seat arena would have been surrounded by an entertainment district, hotel, expo center, offices, park areas, residential units, and more. The arena was pitched to replace the Lloyd Noble Center as the home of the university’s basketball programs.
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