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Jim Norick Arena Replacement Part of MAPS 4 Proposal

Jim Norick Arena, The Big House

Oklahoma City‘s MAPS 4 proposal includes $63 million to fund a new coliseum to replace Jim Norick Arena, best known to many as the Big House.

First opening in 1964, Jim Norick Arena is used for a variety of events, ranging from high school basketball and wrestling to concerts, equestrian events, graduations, and more. It is being eyed for a replacement, as Oklahoma State Fair officials seek to build a new coliseum on fairgrounds property that would provide a more modern venue for the same uses.

If approved by voters next month, the MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects) 4 initiative would provide $63 million toward the cost of a new coliseum. That would give the project a primary funding source, with hotel-motel taxes likely to help round out the financing for what is expected to be a $95 million project. While Jim Norick Arena remains a big player in Oklahoma City’s events scene, its aging condition and limited offerings has prompted the pursuit of a replacement. More from the Oklahoman:

“We spent a lot of time, really beginning back in 2010, just looking at where it could possibly go and where it would need to be,” Tim O’Toole, President and CEO of Oklahoma State Fair, Inc., said. “We even spent time trying to study whether we could construct a new arena over the old one.”

State Fair Arena is to the point it can hardly keep up with its usage. The base architecture hasn’t changed much, and most of the amenities, like concessions and restrooms, are outdated and in need of upgrades….

O’Toole said along with the $63 million the State Fair will receive if MAPS 4 passes, they also plan to get additional funding from outside entities, like the existing hotel-motel tax. The State Fair initially requested $95 million to $120 million for the new coliseum, so the plan is to use MAPS 4 funds as the main source of revenue while other revenue streams fill the overall budget.

“We think it will still be a $95 million project,” O’Toole said. “We’ll just have multiple sources to accomplish that.”

Should these plans move forward, the new coliseum could be completed as early as 2021. The current concept calls for it to offer 4,700 fixed seats, 2,600 retractable seats, and several premium spaces. Once the new coliseum is completed, Jim Norick Arena would be demolished to make way for a warm-up area.

If the ballot question is approved by voters, the 1-cent MAPS sales tax will be extended over an eight-year window beginning in April 2020 to fund 16 projects. The voter referendum is scheduled for December 10.

Image courtesy Oklahoma State Fair.