Proposed $1 Billion Norman Entertainment District: How Would You Vote?

After months of postponing discussions, the new Entertainment District in Norman is one step closer to reality. The City Planning Commission is greenlighting the plan, which features a new area for Sooner's basketball and gymnastics.

Friday, June 14th 2024, 6:12 pm

By: News 9, Tevis Hillis


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After months of postponing discussions, the new Entertainment District in Norman is one step closer to reality.

The City Planning Commission is greenlighting the plan, which features a new area for Sooner's basketball and gymnastics.

"The idea has been said to use it as a catalyst to create more jobs, to create more housing, to candidly create more attractions," said OU's Athletic Director Joe Castiglione.

indoor stadiumImage Provided By: OU News

But two OU economics professors who spoke before last night's vote argue that it's not a slam dunk.

"Economic research shows that arenas are not economic drivers. They are not this economic catalyst that these folks are claiming to be true," said Cynthia Rogers, an OU Professor of Economics.

Castiglione claims that basketball, gymnastics, and other school events would use the arena only 41 days of the year.

One hundred thirty or more other nights would be professionally managed to bring in trade shows, concerts, and graduations.

festival streetImage Provided By: OU News

"The athletes they are being recruited all over the country are the elite. They have choices. We want them to choose OU," said Castiglione.

But before that can happen, the university is asking for additional financial support from the city.

OU is requesting a TIF, which means retaining property and sales tax dollars to fund about $230 million of the $300 million arena.

Arena            Image Provided By: OU News

During Tuesday's City Council meeting, the board voted to ask residents what they think.

OU President Joseph Harroz was not pleased about the delay.

Some councilors say that's how they'll base their vote.

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