Norman Announces Plans For $1 Billion Entertainment District

A broad and diverse coalition of Norman leaders have unveiled plans for a billion-dollar development that includes a venue for major entertainment and sporting events as well as retail shops, restaurants, bars, offices, a hotel, and housing for thousands.

The Norman Economic Development Coalition has joined with the University of Oklahoma, the City of Norman, Cleveland County, and the Norman business community to create a proposal that could transform the community. The coalition will work on this proposal in a collaborative fashion with local governmental leaders through the normal approval process.

“It is rare to have such a collaborative effort to produce a master plan, combining resources and assets to create a unique mixed-use development unlike any in Oklahoma – or the nation, for that matter,” said NEDC President Lawrence McKinney. “Once developed, this entertainment district could be a focal point for all of Central Oklahoma.” 

In today’s announcement, officials outlined the comprehensive development that is planned at Rock Creek Road and 24th Ave. NW. McKinney was joined by University of Oklahoma President Josephe Harroz Jr., Norman Mayor Larry Heikkila, Cleveland County Commissioner Rod Cleveland, Norman Chamber President Scott Martin, and VisitNorman President Dan Schemm

The proposed development will include a multi-purpose performance venue designed to host many different types of events, from concerts and shows to OU basketball games and women’s gymnastics competitions. Adjacent to the performance venue will be an outdoor plaza and a burgeoning, job-creating entertainment district with everything necessary to ensure a premium entertainment experience.

Harroz said the district is exactly what Norman has needed for a long time, and it is exciting for the university to be the district’s first anchor tenant. 

“OU is proud to be a part of this broad and diverse coalition of leaders who are coming together to help grow the Norman economy and provide new opportunities for local residents,” said Harroz. “This new district will be the perfect complement to Campus Corner and historic Downtown Norman. All these enhancements will elevate our community’s unique entertainment options and improve the quality of life for residents of Norman and the broader region.” 

To ensure a successful mixed-use development, the plan features a strong focus on density, diversity, and walkability through multi-family and single-family housing, allowing thousands of residents to live within walking distance of shopping, entertainment, social gatherings, and jobs.

Norman Mayor Heikkila called the entertainment district a pivotal development in Norman’s continuing effort toward economic growth and quality of life. 

“Our citizens have made it clear that quality of life is important to them, and in fact, quality of life is essential for any healthy community, so we are delighted at the prospect of creating a new district that will build on the great assets we already have in Norman,” he said.

With respect to Norman’s role as the world leader in weather research and prediction, the proposed development plan also includes the potential development of a weather museum experience, bringing the exciting world of weather to thousands of visitors annually. In addition, the proposal includes potential airport access from the west side of Max Westheimer Airport, pending the outcome of an ongoing feasibility study. 

Approximately 80% of the plan’s $1 billion cost would be paid through private investment. The remaining 20% would be paid through public sources. None of the funds would come from the city or county general funds, meaning no tax increases to the public. 

Norman is well known for innovation and bold ideas, and this development is another recipe for success, said Norman Chamber President Martin.

“This mixed-use entertainment district will be one of a kind in Oklahoma, and it will further elevate our reputation as the place to live, work, and play,” he said. “The proposed development is also located next to the state’s most visited shopping district and will further enhance economic development and job creation in Norman.”

This proposed development is an opportunity for Norman to continue its long legacy as home to the University of Oklahoma and a showpiece for our state, said VisitNorman President Schemm.

“As OU enters the Southeastern Conference, VisitNorman is committed to ensuring that the welcome mat is out for visiting teams and their fans,” he said. “This is a top-notch development offering all the ingredients for a fun and inviting experience our guests will remember for years to come.” 

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