MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

November 17, 2012

Event center must come first

— Developing Love-Hatbox Sports Complex is vital to the continued growth of tourism in Muskogee.

Further development could be used as a springboard to bring in tourists who will spend nights in our hotels, eat at our restaurants and shop at our stores.

Three things should be at the heart of development:

• Public-private partnerships. The city of Muskogee has agreed to let a private developer put in a family-oriented indoor play center in one of the unused hangars.

Under the agreement, Show It Off would pay the city 20 percent of the revenue generated by private and public events. The company also would be responsible for carrying liability insurance and maintaining the building.

If the play center prospers, the city should consider more public-private development.

• A miniature golf course. The course was another phase of development after the water park was completed.

Budget constraints have delayed that development.

A miniature golf course would best fit the family atmosphere of the park.

• An events center. This is the most critical. The center at the Muskogee Fairgrounds needs to be replaced by a modern facility.

Building a facility at Love-Hatbox will drive tourism dollars.

There have been other suggestions, including building lacrosse fields and a place to pay to fish.

Neither would have the proven impact of hosting livestock shows.

The events center must be the first piece of Love-Hatbox’s revival.

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