The Tulsa Drillers hosted the IFMA Tulsa chapter with a luncheon featuring ballpark fare including hamburgers, hot dogs with all the fixings along with baked beans and mac and cheese. Kevin Butcher, Business Development Manager with the Drillers was our host.
The first part of the April program was a presentation by Kevin discussing what's new at Oneok Field this year. The major development at the ballpark was the installation of a new ribbon video board. The new board is 3 feet high and 450 feet long, wrapping around from one end of the stadium to the other. In addition to the new ribbon video board, the Drillers have added the latest in technology for beer dispensing, the new "Bottom Up" system. This new technology allows the vendors to "pour" a beer from the bottom up. The beer fills up through a hole in the bottom of the cup and the hole is then covered by a magnet that you get to keep.
To go with your cold beer, the Drillers have added a number of new food items. There are all kinds of new topping for the hot dogs and hamburgers including one new favorite that is stuffed with bacon and covered with avocado. Other new items include buffalo chicken, mozzarella sticks and "some really spicy stuff." Fan favorites returning for another year include the Driller Chiller and smoked bologna.
Next up was Delise Tomlinson, Executive Director of Downtown Development for the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce. Delise was on hand to share what is new in downtown with focus on the area near Oneok Field including the Brady and Blue Dome Districts. Delise's presentation was entitled Develop + Live + Play + Stay. Delise started off with a picture of downtown Tulsa with a lot of people in the street outside the Hyatt Hotel followed by a picture taken in a city where there is no one in sight. The question posed was, "Where would you rather live?" That was followed by a quote from the former mayor of Indianapolis declaring, "You can't be a suburb of nothing." Another quote shared was, "What attracts most people it would appear, is other people." Delise then put up some pictures of cities with iconic building or landmarks that make them easily identifiable. Cities such as Chicago, Nashville, New York, Denver, Memphis, Ft. Worth, Dallas are cities that you can recognize from a single picture taken in the downtown area of the skyline or a piece of art like "the bean" (actually called Cloud Gate by the artist) in Chicago. We want Tulsa to be one of those cities. To make that happen, not only do we have to be identifiable, we need the following factors: Clean and safe, parking, retail, trees, historic buildings, walkable, residential areas, nightlife, arts and culture, investments, hotels, gateways and class A office space. Tying in those factors, we moved on to new buildings built in the Brady district over the last few years. Delise touched on the new Griffin Communications building (The News on 6), the Brady Fairfield hotel, the GreenArch at Greenwood Lofts, the John Hope Franklin Memorial Park, the Hardesty Arts Center, the Matthews Warehouse, the Holiday Inn Express hotel, the Metro at Brady and the very popular Guthrie Green along with the food trucks that have been a big hit. Touching on other areas of town, Delise discussed the new Aloft Hotel that was created from the "ashes" of the old City Hall building. Also included were the new One Place office building, the project to turn the old YMCA into the YMCA Lofts, and the Pala-Dora office building that was restored with assistance from former IFMA Tulsa member, Carl Vincent. New hotels mentioned that are coming to the downtown area included a Hilton Garden Inn and the Hampton Inn at One Place. Upcoming projects include the Harrington Building (lofts), the Vandever Lofts and The Green. Other notables were all the new restaurants that have opened all over downtown. Blue Dome District projects mentioned included the new Hogan Assessments building and the Blue Dome Market. New restaurants in the Blue Dome District included Rib Crib , S&J Oyster Bar, Albert G's BBQ and Whiskey Business. Delise touched on a number of the retail businesses that have opened in the area like Lee's Bicycles and Fleet Feet. While the Blue Dome and Brady Districts have become very popular, a new area that is starting to pick up the pace is the East Village. Girouard Vines, Urban 8, Hartford Commons, the Coliseum Apartments and the soon to be redeveloped former Hartford Property Building are just a few of the new additions to this growing area.
After the presentations, we took a tour of Oneok Field. We visited some of the new suites, went behind the scenes were the broadcast of the games takes place, got to see how those new beer dispensers work (didn't drink any, although it was tempting) and visited the locker rooms, the dugouts and got to go our on the field.
Many thanks to the Tulsa Drillers organization, including General Manager Mike Melega, and Delise Tomlinson for a great, fun, informative meeting.