, Muskogee, OK

April 11, 2013

Improve city, civic center for visitors

— One major key to enhancing the viability of the Muskogee Civic Center is to realize the area around the center is at least as important as upgrading the center itself.

Muskogee city councilors discussed the future of the center during a budget retreat recently.

The retreat helps determine the priorities for the city as they relate to the budget for Fiscal Year 2014.

Two of Mayor Bob Coburn’s concerns were sales tax leakage and the future of the Civic Center.

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation is expected to build an events center.

The Creek events center could endanger the viability of the Muskogee Civic Center.

“They’re (Creek Nation) going to spend $10 million down the road and take 50 percent of the business from here,” Coburn said.

The mayor wants to discuss what could happen if the Creeks begin competing with the city of Muskogee for entertainment attractions.

Coburn is correct to be concerned.

The city must decide how or if it wants to compete with the Creeks.

The city should consider focusing their attentions on the area around the center rather than the center itself.

Entertainers will play at any facility if enough money is offered.

But getting entertainers here is half the battle. Getting visitors to the Civic Center is the real issue.

Many visitors spend time (and money) in cities before or after a concert.

If, for example, the city could spend money to create a dining district downtown, that might help get visitors from around the area to attend events at our Civic Center and spend more money in our city.