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Lots to tout in Tulsa

Successful meetings are a sure thing in the northeast Oklahoma city of Tulsa due to extensive downtown development and the new Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa.

The former Cherokee Casino Resort opened in early August under the Hard Rock name as part of a $155 million renovation and expansion that includes a 356-room hotel tower and 35,000 square feet of meeting space.

“The Hard Rock brand gives us more name recognition with meeting planners,” said Stacy McKee-Redden, director of sales, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa. “And although the Cherokee Casino Resort has always hosted smaller meetings, we can now market to larger regional and national conferences of up to 1,000 people.”

One of seven Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos worldwide, the property’s meeting venues include a 23,000-square-foot convention center with a 15,000-square-foot ballroom, as well as 19 meeting rooms. Upscale receptions can be held in the 5,000-square-foot Sky Room, with panoramic views through floor-to-ceiling windows. The hotel will open a 2,500-seat arena in 2010.

“Our championship Cherokee Hills Golf Club will keep its name, as we want to maintain some of our Cherokee heritage,” said McKee-Redden. “Groups love it for team building and leisure golf tournaments, and it has been rated one of Oklahoma’s top five public courses by Golfweek magazine.”

The casino hotel is 15 minutes from downtown Tulsa, which is also undergoing tremendous change. 

“The 18,000-seat BOK Center arena opened in September 2008, and in January we will unveil our newly renovated and expanded convention center,” said Amy Huntley, director of convention sales and marketing for the Tulsa CVB. “It features a 30,000-square-foot ballroom, the largest in the state of Oklahoma, and 12 new breakout rooms totaling 20,000 square feet.”

BMX bike races are among 400 events held at Tulsa’s Expo Square complex.

The center, which includes a  102,600-square-foot exhibit hall, 20,000-square-foot conference hall and 8,900-seat arena, has remained open during construction. 

The convention center’s size is perfect for groups like the 8,000-person Order of Eastern Star Triennial North American Convention, which will meet there in October. The convention center and BOK arena are connected.

The renovation of two historic buildings will soon give downtown Tulsa 1,300 guest rooms.

The 102-room Mayo Hotel will reopen in October after a 20-year hiatus, and the Atlas Life Building will become a 120-room Courtyard by Marriott by next spring.

The Crowne Plaza Tulsa, downtown’s largest hotel, a block from BOK Arena, has also renovated its 462 guest rooms.

“Our downtown entertainment options will also increase next spring with the opening of ONEOK Field, the new stadium for the Double A Tulsa Drillers baseball team,” said Huntley.

Amateur athletic, religious and agricultural groups are the city’s largest meeting markets, all of which can be accommodated at the sprawling midtown Expo Square complex.

 “We hold some 400 events there each year, including the American Bicycle Association’s BMX Grand Nationals; the Arabian Horse Association’s 15-day championship show; and the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals, which draws some 45,000 attendees each January,” Huntley said.

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