Benson told the approximately 200 people who attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony — among them former commissioners — that construction took courageous leadership by former commissioners and mayors.
During his remarks, Benson recognized a number of people who worked toward the goal of completing the project successfully. He singled out former city commissioners Don Rose, Drew Ritchie and Todd Ging for heading up the committee that worked on the project.
“We set out to transform the face of the city of Enid and we sought a first-class effort,” Benson said.
Benson said the city “reached out” to Global Spectrum, which manages the facilities and became a partner in the construction process. He recognized Frank Russo, representing Global Spectrum, and Convergence Design’s David Greusel, who briefly spoke. Benson also recognized general contractor Key Construction and Carter Construction of Atlanta.
For the opening of the 74,000-square-foot facility, Tania Warnock sang an original song about Enid, plus artists from Cirque Musica performed. Cirque Musica will perform June 27 at Enid Event Center.
Enid Event Center cost $18 million to construct and is the centerpiece of the $34 million Enid Renaissance Project, which also included renovation of Convention Hall and other projects. The building is configured so it can accommodate everything from sporting events to concerts and trade shows.
Under the basketball configuration, the center features 3,200 seats. For concerts, the seating capacity is 3,800, and for trade shows, the configuration includes 192 10-by-10-foot booths with additional space in the concourse. There is banquet space for 2,000.
The center also is equipped with two loading docks, one full roll-up entry, four locker rooms and a green room for entertainers.
“They say you can’t have your cake and eat it too, but you guys have done that,” Russo said.
Greusel said the building was designed to look like part of downtown, and he hopes people feel that it is.
Inside the building, Greusel liked the way his design looks.
“It’s great to see a design completed. This is what architects live for,” Greusel said.
Lisa Powell called the building beautiful.
“It’s very clean, simple and functional,” Powell said.
Ritchie, who was part of the three-commissioner team that initially worked on the project, said he was speechless.
“As I talked to some people, I struggled not to be emotional,” he said. “Simply put, it’s amazing.”
Enid Event Center and Convention Hall projects were not without opposition, but Ritchie said seeing the finished product made it all worthwhile.
“There is a saying that the tougher the climb, the more beautiful the view,” he said.
Commissioner Ron Janzen liked the building. He said to his knowledge, it is the largest building of its kind constructed in Enid.
“It looks like a good place to play basketball,” Janzen said.
GRAND OPENING, T.J. MAXX ANNOUNCEMENTThe facility will be home to Enid High School basketball teams.
Former Mayor John Criner, who was mayor during the early phases of construction, called the building beautiful.
“This will bring a lot of people to Enid,” he said.
Keller Taylor, Global Spectrum manager of Event Center and Convention Hall, said it is good to get the facility open and start using it.
“It was a great process and a lot of credit goes to the team that got it where it is today,” he said.
He credited Key Construction with staying on top of the project and finishing it.
“From the idea to opening day was faster than any other project in the state,” Benson said. “It required a lot of commitment from everyone.”
Mayor Bill Shewey wants to hurry and start using the building and finish up the project.
“We need to plant a little grass,” he said. “It’s a nice facility for Enid.”
Benson said Enid Event Center and Convention Hall are built as the centerpiece of a downtown revitalization that will make Enid a destination for travelers and bring in additional sales tax revenue. A downtown hotel also is in the pre-construction stage.