The BOK Center
For anyone near Tulsa, OK, the BOK Center is a must-visit arena that hosts several professional sports and serves as a live concert venue. It’s an indoor sports and event center in the heart of the city where you can watch arena football, hockey, basketball, and more. Encompassing 565,000 square feet with an indoor height of 134 feet, it can comfortably accommodate up to 19,199 guests.
The History of the BOK Center
It all started with a campaign promise from former Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune. He promised to hold a municipal planning conference, which he did shortly after taking office in 2002. They broke ground on August 31, 2005. The project cost $178 million in public funds, along with $18 million in privately funded upgrades. It was the flagship project of Tulsa County’s Vision 2005 Initiative.
Tulsa natives Garth Brooks and Hanson were on hand for the ribbon cutting on August 30, 2008. The arena was named after the Bank of Oklahoma, which purchased the naming rights for $11 million. The first concert was a performance by the Eagles on September 6 of that year. After selling out within 35 minutes, they immediately scheduled a second show.
Paul McCartney came to Tulsa to perform on August 17, 2009, which launched the one-year birthday celebration of the venue. Today, it is managed and operated by SMG. It’s the home of the ECHL’s Tulsa Oilers and the indoor football league’s Tulsa Oilers.
When you visit Tulsa, BOK Center stands out for its beauty. It was designed by Cesar Pelli, who was the architect mind behind the Patronas Towers in Malaysia. The city wanted this venue to be an architectural icon. To accomplish this, Pelli used a mix of contemporary, Art Deco, and Native American styles. The result is an arena that reflects Tulsa’s heritage perfectly.
Swirling circular elements are seen inside and out, which include an eye-catching 103-foot by 106-foot glass facade. Guests entering the venue’s bowl are instantly impressed with the 120-foot-high ceiling and the 930-foot HD ribbon screen that wraps around the three levels of seating. There are 17,343 fixed seats, and features like luxury suites, press areas, and a bar are located on the second level. There are 14 concession stands. Seven of them are operated by local restaurants, which provide visitors with typical arena foods.
It’s not just the attendees who are spoiled. Teams that come to the arena are treated to dressing rooms with wooden lockers, hydrotherapy and workout rooms, locker rooms for game officials, a player lounge, and offices for trainers, coaches, and equipment managers.
Fun Facts About Tulsa’s Famous Sports Arena
$1.5 million was spent on artwork for the venue in order to comply with Tulsa’s city ordinance that mandates that 1% of costs for all municipal projects be spent on public art. Over 300 artists applied, but only five were chosen to decorate the building’s interior. The artwork includes four 22-foot-tall Native American medallions, a 5,000-pound cloth sculpture hanging over the main concourse, and 25 paintings depicting tall grass prairies on the third floor of the main lobby.
This venue hosts many big-name acts, such as Elton John, Billy Joel, Justin Timberlake, Metallica, Taylor Swift, and Bruce Springsteen. The general manager, John Bolton, was awarded Venues Today’s “Hall of Headliners” award in 2008 for his success in booking a high volume of quality performers.
The NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder played the Houston Rockets here on October 13, 2008. It was their first preseason game since leaving Seattle for Oklahoma. It was also the first major sporting event held in the venue.
This event center is home to one minor-league professional sports team, the Tulsa Oilers ice hockey team. It also had the honor of being the home of the Tulsa Talons Arena Football League from 2009 until 2011. Tulsa Shock of the Women’s National Basketball Association held all of their home games here from 2010 through 2015. Another notable series of events was the Professional Bull Riders Built Ford Tough Series that came to the BOC Center in 2009 after leaving the Tulsa Convention Center.
Whether you’re a sports enthusiast, love great music, or simply appreciate art, you’ll love BOK Center. There’s something for everyone, and you’ll appreciate all of the shopping, dining, and hotels in the area.