Chamber Boldly Supports UNP ArenaScott Martin on
With the beginning of a new year comes fresh hope and the excitement of what might be. There is much to look forward to, and I can’t think of a better way to start the new year than to embrace a game changer for Norman, a project that will grow our economy and generate jobs. The proposed University North Park Entertainment District is that project, a unique opportunity to further elevate Norman as a regional leader in both business and culture. The Norman Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and staff strongly support this proposal. The Lloyd Noble Center has long been an attraction for OU basketball fans and other large events, but needs renovation and upgrades to better meet the needs of its patrons. Additionally, the current level of University North Park retail development has led to a much-needed increase in sales tax revenue for the city and job creation for the community. Finally, it has offered new retail and dining experiences for Norman citizens. It would be easy to rest on past success, but we need to look for new opportunities to move Norman forward.
As the City considers their interest and involvement in the proposed University North Park Entertainment District, particularly with a new arena anchored by OU basketball; the Chamber is excited about the potential this project can offer. With an ever-evolving retail climate, communities across the country are looking at new ways to encourage job growth and revenue generators through increased sales and property taxes.
The OU Foundation has made an impressive case as to the merits of the arena, entertainment, expo, housing, office, tech manufacturing, and parks; all within a walkable environment. These components are welcome additions to our community, and ones that will set us apart from our regional neighbors. While other communities might be promoting similar options, none have an anchor tenant like the University of Oklahoma.
The Norman Chamber of Commerce is enthusiastic about this project and looks forward to working with The OU Foundation and Norman’s City Council in creating a solid business plan. We offer our energy and expertise to help develop a proper and equitable funding solution that best serves our community. We expect the solution to be a partnership between the OU Foundation and citizens of Norman. The UNP Entertainment District and surrounding development has the potential to create new jobs, add much needed housing, and expand the cultural experience for our citizens and visitors.
When considering the future of Norman, we know the challenges facing our community and the necessity to be proactive to ensure we can meet the needs of a vibrant, growing city. The proposed Entertainment District at University North Park will contribute to Norman’s upward trajectory. This project could be the Lake Thunderbird of our generation. Now is the time for us to be bold for Norman. Let’s resolve that 2018 will be the year this once in a generation opportunity becomes a reality.