Tulsa Tuesday: Five things Tulsa could learn From OKC

(Editor’s Note: Ben, one of our Tulsa Tuesday guest columnists, is back.  Enjoy.)

Unlike most Tulsans, I only dislike Oklahoma City a little bit.  In the fact, I think there are many things we can learn from our flat, not as pretty neighbor about 90 miles to the southwest.

5. Make the most of what you’ve got

The Canadian River is really nothing more than a glorified creek, yet forward-thinking people in OKC decided to turn it an attractive downtown river which is the centerpiece of a revived downtown area.

Meanwhile up the turnpike, Tulsa has an actual river that flows and stuff and our response is to divert a lot of its flow into a navigation channel that feeds the world’s most pointless inland port. This turns the actual riverbed into a sandpit for any time of the year we don’t get above average rain.

I’ve lived in Tulsa on-and off for 13 years; the constant refrain was that Tulsa was about to get those low-water dams. Seeing now that the city has a hard time being able to afford gas for the police chopper or electricity for highway lights ““ I don’t see any dam building soon, unless one of the tribes figures out a reason to build a casino on top of one.

4. Be bold in naming your airport

Unless you count a flight to Albuquerque, “New” Mexico an international flight, then the only thing International at the Tulsa airport is the Taco Bell. So, that’s one strike ““ and then you don’t even name the airport after any thing or person ““ very boring.

Now naming your airport after a guy who died in a plane crash ““ that’s got some style. Even better, buck the whole “International” name that the rest of the aviation world uses, and call it a “World” airport. Sounds like a big league city to me.

3. Attract the right kind of musicians to live in your area

Garth Brooks vs. Wayne Coyne

Which house would you rather party at on Friday night?

By the way, what does Garth keep in that garage? Spare guitars to smash? A lifetime supply of Wranglers? Chris Gaines memorabilia?

2. Build for the long term

Oklahoma City doesn’t play a particularly significant role in the history of the oil industry, and at one point Tulsa was pretty much the center of the oil universe. Yet over the past 30 years it feels like OKC is a burgeoning center with growing energy companies like Devon and Chesapeake while the oil majors seemed to all trip over themselves to see who could relocate from Tulsa to Houston quicker.

No better example of this exists than a comparison between the respective downtown footprints of each city’s big dogs. Down the interstate Devon is building a big impressive tower:


Note: this might not actually be the new Devon tower.

Meanwhile Tulsa’s only major oil industry player left decided that it wasn’t good enough to just thrive in the world’s most lucrative (non-cocaine-related) industry. It got into telecom just in time to take part in a technology bust, nearly bringing down the entire mothership. So, rather than building cool new towers it actually went the other direction ““ leaving an empty, hulking office building that the city decided to over-pay for last year and relocate city hall into.

1. Attract the right kind of friends

OKC was chosen as the next logical place for the oh-so-intriguing Lingerie Football League…until your mayor got involved.

Meanwhile, Tulsa has been graced with the lovely ladies of the WNBA

I can’t say it any better than my comedy betters at The Onion:

WNBA franchise moving to Tulsa sounds about right.

DETROIT””A recent announcement that the WNBA’s Detroit Shock would be moving to Tulsa, OK next season seemed pretty much in line with what one would expect from the women’s professional basketball league, observers told reporters Sunday. “Tulsa, huh? Sure, makes sense,” said Detroit resident Paul Dutton, adding that he would have had the same matter-of-fact response had the Shock said they were moving to Harrisburg, PA, El Paso, TX, or Morgantown, WV. “Actually, when I first heard the news I was more surprised to find out that Tulsa didn’t already have a WNBA team. Don’t they have a team in Connecticut that plays in a casino? That’s so weird.” When informed that the Shock would be moving to their hometown, a majority of Tulsa residents politely nodded their heads and continued about their day.