ENID, Okla. —
The men who run Enid’s two large-capacity event facilities have high expectations — not just for their own buildings, but for how their presence in the same market will boost each others’ business.
General Manager Keller Taylor acknowledges there could be some competition between his Enid Event Center and the Chisholm Trail Expo Center, which is owned and operated by Garfield County and sits on the far north side of the city.
“To an extent, but I think competition is good for Enid,” he said. “If there’s two people out there trying to actively recruit events to the town, it’s going to help us get more events.”
The city of Enid built the Event Center last year and picked private firm Global Spectrum to manage its operations alongside the renovated Convention Hall.
Steve Barnes is general manager at the Expo Center, which includes a 6,000-seat Coliseum that can be modified to add another 2,000 seats on the floor.
The Coliseum, built in 1999, can hold twice as many people as the newer Event Center.
“The facilities are so different that we serve two different functions,” Barnes said.
They can, however, hold similar events.
Both organizations said they can hold sporting events, trade shows, concerts and rodeos.
The Event Center has a permanent tenant with Enid High School’s basketball team, and it already has scheduled basketball tournaments.
The Expo Center’s Coliseum has a basketball floor available and has hosted state tournament games virtually since it was built. Barnes said the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association has again picked the Coliseum for prep competition this year.
An obvious difference, and a sticking point for the acts who mark Enid on the map, is the size of each facility.
“There are certain areas where we overlap, but I think there’s more areas that we are designed for completely different events,” Barnes said. “They could never replace us just because of the square footage.”
KNID’s Agrifest, which wrapped up Saturday, is one event that city officials concede could not be replicated in downtown Enid. The agricultural trade show and exhibition uses “every square foot that we have of every building we have,” Barnes said.
Along with the Coliseum, the Expo Center has a pavilion, the Hoover Building, the Youth Building and a dirt track with grandstand.
Enid City Manager Eric Benson said there is no way the Agrifest could fit in the city’s facilities downtown.
“No way you could. And we couldn’t have a stock show,” he said. “But now we have a capability that covers the entire waterfront of destination events.”
Different needs, two options
Benson noted that the Expo Center has been used as a “jack of all trades.”
“Some things it does very well, but the Events Center downtown will be a whole lot better venue for things like basketball, concerts and that sort of thing,” he said.
Global Spectrum has contacted organizers for several events that previously appeared at the Expo Center, including the OSSAA, Barnes said.
The county’s facility has loyal organizers, Taylor admitted.
“The facility meets some needs — amount of space, the type of space, dirt floor versus concrete floor, number of seats,” he said. “But I think we have a lot of capability on our end, too. We have items that can enhance the guest experience, the whole bit that makes it important for us to go after everything we can.
“If event organizers are loyal to a facility, then that decision is made before I even get a call.”