Point of View: 'Big House' means much to OKC, state

For people like me from rural Oklahoma, “The Big House” at the State Fairgrounds is a special place.

It's where we cheered on our hometown teams. Where we forged friendships in the show ring with peers from all four corners of the state. Where we met wives and husbands.

For more than 50 years, the arena has been a dream destination for students across Oklahoma. Whether they want a state champion trophy or a grand champion ribbon, the fairgrounds arena — dubbed “The Big House” in the 1960s — has been featured in the fantasies of basketball players, wrestlers and participants in the Oklahoma Youth Expo.

Trips to the Big House introduce Oklahoma City to thousands of students who live outside of the metro area. These young leaders compete at the fairgrounds at a time when they are also considering their career paths. Many will leave their rural Oklahoma roots, but that doesn’t mean they need to leave Oklahoma to find opportunity.

Oklahoma City attracts these young people because voters have a long history of approving 1-cent sales taxes to fund improvements such as the Bricktown canal and ballpark, the downtown arena and the soon-to-open Scissortail Park.

Including funding for a “New Big House” in MAPS4 would continue the tradition of taking bold steps to maintain the city’s momentum. The coliseum would help entice young adults from around the state to make Oklahoma City their home when they decide where to launch their lives.

An upgraded coliseum would also be a significant financial boon for our capital city. As the world’s largest youth livestock show, the Oklahoma Youth Expo generates $25 million in economic impact for Oklahoma City, with students and families filling local hotels and restaurants for the entirety of the event. A state-of-the-art facility supporting larger crowds will only add to the financial impact.

To keep Oklahoma City vibrant, competitive and growing, we need to invest in a “New Big House” for our youth and for the city.

Read the original piece at oklahoman.com.