Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Building It So They'll Come

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Building It So They'll Come

Article excerpt

City leaders, hotel operators and convention planners are banking on the $42.8 million Myriad Convention Center renovation to pay off in a big way. But the Myriad project is only one of many efforts to gear up for a hoped-for influx of conventioneers to Oklahoma City.

Fort Smith, Ark.-based S&H is building a 35,000-square-foot convention center at Interstate 40 and Meridian Avenue, next to its 312-room Clarion Meridian Hotel Conference Center at 801 S. Meridian Ave. And the Clarion Hotel and Conference Center at 4501 N. Lincoln Blvd. has stepped up its efforts to boost convention business with an 18-month renovation of the hotel.

The Myriad project will add 30,000 square feet of meeting room space and a 25,000-square-foot ballroom. Combined with prefunction and lobby areas, the addition is about 105,000 square feet on the building's north side. City leaders hope the addition will draw bigger conventions to the city and fill hundreds of hotel rooms. "We'll be able to host a lot more upscale meeting functions that simply wouldn't have used the old meeting rooms," notes Wes Gray, the city's public events director. "We'll be able to host multiple meetings because we now have the flexibility and the size to do that." The city averages 175,000 convention delegates a year, according to Christine Wise, director of convention sales and services at the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau. That number has dropped as low as 114,000 last year due to the ongoing Myriad renovation, to be complete in October 1999. The $35 million Marriott Renaissance Hotel at the northeast corner of Broadway and Sheridan Avenue will add 312 downtown hotel rooms. Missouri hotelier John Q. Hammons is building the hotel, which will connect to the Myriad by skywalk. The new hotel will create a core of 700 downtown hotel rooms, but some conventions demand a minimum of 1,000 rooms. "So many of the cities that we are out there competing with have more rooms in one hotel than we have in our entire downtown," reflects Wise. …

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