Renovation of the Cox Center was included in the MAPS plan approved by voters in 1993. The work was done in 1999.
Though the building opened in 1971, the renovation is only 10 years old. Williams said the work done through MAPS made the building look better, but didn’t solve any of its size limitations.
“The renovation was carpet and painting,” Williams said. “It didn’t expand it. It didn’t improve it as far as capacity. It didn’t impact the infrastructure.”
Because the Cox Center is surrounded by streets and businesses, it is “landlocked,” he said.
“It can’t be expanded,” Williams said. “That building was designed and built as an arena, not a convention center. The exhibition space and meeting rooms were added as an afterthought.”
When it was built in 1972, the Myriad Convention Center wasn’t so much a convention center as it was an arena with a few dozen meeting rooms around it. That was fine for a time, though the Myriad never did draw the convention business leaders desired.
So 20 years later, renovating and upgrading the center was important to helping the city lure more outsiders to town. The structurally outdated building proved expensive to upgrade, with a $63.1 million price tag. The plan worked. With a new wing of ballrooms and meeting space that totaled 100,000 new square feet, more and more conventions made their way to a city making a comeback.
While the upgrades were great for the city, other cities upped the convention ante. Many other cities in the region now have larger and better convention centers, according to a study commissioned by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.