Oklahoma City Conducting Environmental Assessment of Potential Arena Location

The leading contender for the new OKC arena location is the former Myriad/Cox Convention Center, currently leased to Prairie Surf Studios.

Wednesday, December 13th 2023, 10:57 pm

By: News 9, Matt McCabe


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After passing by a wide margin on Tuesday, Oklahoma City's city manager, Craig Freeman, suggested the city is considering an undisclosed number of potential sites.

But its leading contender, and the only site publicly named or owned by the city, is the site of the former Myriad/Cox Convention Center, which is currently leased to Prairie Surf Studios. "I think the site, probably over the next couple of months, I would expect we have the site decided and have that public," Freeman said on Wednesday.

But public records reveal the city is already undertaking concrete steps to evaluate the viability of the former convention center, which opened in 1972.

In a public records request filed on August 1 by a private company known as Oklahoma Environmental Services, the company stated it had been contracted by the City of Oklahoma City and its Brownfields program Office to conduct a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment of the former Myriad/Cox Convention Center. It was seeking records related to potential environmental hazards located inside the building.

News 9 contacted the company to learn more about its involvement and conclusions related to the environmental assessment of the property but did not receive a response by the time this story was published.

According to the website for the city's Brownfields program, brownfields are "underused or abandoned properties with confirmed or possible environmental contaminants that complicate development opportunities."

An online database managed by the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment was conducted on the site, and that the assessment determined cleanup was necessary. However, that database did not reveal what exact environmental hazards require remediation before redevelopment can begin.

News 9 contacted a spokesperson for Oklahoma City and a representative of its Brownfields program to learn what hazards were identified inside of the site and also filed open records requests with the City Clerk's office. The representative for the Brownfields program was unavailable on Wednesday but said it would provide additional information on Thursday.

An online form on the city's website for requests for Brownfields services subdivides the process into four steps: a phase 1 assessment, a phase 2 assessment, analysis, and then cleanup. While it is clear city leaders have already completed Phase 1, it's not clear yet if a Phase 2 assessment has begun.

Brownfields are not uncommon, with hundreds across the city. Sites range from environmental hazards related to oil use to outdated or aged building materials. Previously, the city has successfully remediated many downtown Brownfields sites, including parts of Bricktown. More recently, projects included the First National and Skirvin Hotel.

Although a site selection has not been made for the city's new arena, remediating any environmental hazards would be the next step in securing the arena's future next door to its current location.

The federal government has made $2.8 million available to the City of Oklahoma City, which issues low-interest loans for cleanup projects.

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