Tulsa might be the 45-largest city in the U.S. but, according to the latest reports from Tulsa Business Journal, our newest, largest event spot, the BOK Center, ranked eighth among top U.S. venues for ticket sales in 2009, and twentieth worldwide. In the world of event centers and arenas (yet another one of those places where size really does matter), that puts us in league with cities like New York, Dallas, Atlanta and Philadelphia. Ahead of Phillie, actually.
Precisely 729,814 fans showed up at BOK Center during its inaugural year, starting with the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 30, 2008.
No parking downtown, huh, guys? Heh. Just kidding. Please don't send hate mail. I'll tell my grandmother on you and she'll come paddle your bottom.
In its first year, 184 shows rolled through Tulsa's new arena. Here are just a few of them:
- Super Flush. Remember when 150 of Tulsa's kids flushed all the toilets in the BOK Center simultaneously? A commemorative "I flushed it first" t-shirt was given to each child who did the honors.
- The Eagles. Nearly 14,000 tickets (read: all of them) were sold to this show, which heralded opening night at the BOK Center, in less than 35 minutes. One word: Woah. Good thing the band came back in November for a kick-ass encore.
- Tulsa Oilers Opening Night. Between the figure skating show, games, practices and other times the ice rink was used, a grand total of 68,000 gallons of water were used during this first Tulsa Oilers season in the BOK Center. Again with the toilets: I wonder, how many BOK Center commodes could one flush using that amount of water?
- New Kids on the Block. They make the list because I was a child of the '80s. Don't ask too many questions or I'll lace up my high tops and come at you with a dozen slap bracelets.
- Billy Joel and Elton John. Because, OMG, Billy Joel and Elton John.
- Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band. Thanks, BOK Center, for bringing The Bruce back to Oklahoma for the first time in 30 years.
- Jonas Brothers. I swear I could hear the screams of thousands of Tulsa tweens from my house. Ten miles away.
- Journey. I'm sure everyone brushed up on their karaoke repertoire while this band was in town.
- Paul McCartney. This former Beatle helped Tulsa celebrate the one-year anniversary of the BOK Center last August, grossing $2.6 million for the facility. Thank you, Sir Paul.
Wait! I have more BOK Center facts to boggle your mind. Each sold-out performance at the arena goes through:
- 2,000 hotdogs; a total of 21,478 were sold during BOK Center's first year.
- 16,000 napkins
- 150 kegs of beer; more than 209,000 draft beers were sold during the BOK's first year (beating soda by nearly 32,000 cups - take that, soda)
- 2,000 margaritas (in true Oklahoma style, of course)
- 1,000 gallons of soda - or, as we here in Tulsa like to say, pop. Or, Coke. Call it soda and you sell 32,000 fewer cups of it than draft beer.
The folks at BOK Center don't take being named to the top 10 event venues in the country as a permission slip to kick back and relax. Instead, they're bringing the likes of Eric Clapton, Bon Jovi and, who else, Elmo (The Jonas Brothers times 10 for my son and his posse of bad-ass toddlers) to the arena over the next couple of months. Plus, there's Skate Date, one of my very favorite BOK Center events from last year and on the calendar for Valentine's Day 2010.
Word of advice: Don't dawdle en route to Skate Date. The key word here is punctuality. Why? It gets crowded.
Just a little.
While concerts are expensive these days (and that goes for everywhere, folks, not just for Tulsa with its big, new, fancy, tax payer-funded arena), I think the folks at BOK have done a good job of bringing a variety of acts through its doors (and to its front porch - remember the free concerts at ONEOK Plaza before spring, summer and fall events?) so that everyone, not just those who can afford a $100 ticket, can participate in the party at Second and Denver.
You've been to an event at the BOK Center, right? I bet you've been to even more than one. Which was your favorite? Which did you think were totally lame? If you were in the shoes of John Bolton, the main man at BOK Center, who would you be calling with an invitation to Tulsa?
BOK Center facts and stats from 365 book(ed), a publication/collaboration of BOK Center, Cubic Creative and scads of other imaginative, creative T-Towners.