McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

January 11, 2014

Event Center vs. Coliseum: No hand-wringing over similar event facilities

By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

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.

Size matters

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.”



A rising tide ...

One way Barnes sees that the city’s new investment downtown could benefit the county as a whole is the boost of proper meeting space. Next to the Event Center is the renovated Convention Hall.

“The fact that the Event Center and Convention Hall are downtown doesn’t concern me. Even with the space they have, there is still a need in town for meeting space,” he said.

Barnes also derided the notion that there is tension between city and county leaders.

“I wish people in this town, in this county, would quit trying to separate the two entities about somebody either being city or county. It’s a crazy idea because since a majority of the county lives in the city, basically we’re all the same people,” he said.

They’re all after the same goal, to make Enid and Garfield County a destination, he said, noting that the new facility “doesn’t do anything but make everyone look better.”

“We’ve got to get over the idea of you’re either for the city or for the county,” Barnes said. “If we’re going to grow and if we’re going to become a destination, we’ve got to have everyone work together and promote Enid and Garfield County as one.”

Statistics:

Capacity

EEC: 3,200 - 4,000

CTEC: 6,000 - 8,000



Cost to build

EEC: $18 million

CTEC: $10.5 million



Alterations

EEC: Sports, concerts, ice shows, rodeos, trade shows, banquets

CTEC: Sports, rodeo, trade shows, formal balls, meetings, circus, gun shows, auctions, job fairs



Revenue

EEC: $358,635 (Through October)

CTEC: $381,344.09 (July 1 - Nov. 30, 2013)



No. of events in 2013

EEC: 6

CTEC: Approx. 500 (includes all Expo Center events)



Dimensions

EEC: 215' x 300'

CTEC: 320' x 280'



Built

EEC: 2013

CTEC: 1999



Architect/Builder

EEC: Convergence Design/Carter USA, Key Construction

CTEC: Ken Corbin/Henson Construction