View Full Version : MAPS update... ...the guys who started it all...

7/5/2008, 12:06 PM
There's a good column (http://newsok.com/norick-horrow-started-this-nba-thing/article/3266167/?tm=1215234219) in the Oklahoman today by Berry Tramel (yes, really). As a follow-up to the NBA relocation, he talks about what got us to this point, and discusses one of the unsung heroes of MAPS, consultant Rick Horrow.

He doesn't explain in detail what Rick's role was, but he is the person who came up with the concept of bundling nine projects together as a pass/fail. Therefore, people who wanted to keep pro baseball here, or who wanted to improve horse show facilities at the fairgrounds, ALSO had to vote for a new library and performing arts center overhaul. It was all-or-nothing, which coupled with a dedicated sales tax had never been tried on this scale anywhere in the United States.

Rick is the guy, basically, who got American Airlines Arena built in Miami, and specializes in sports facility consulting.

I've been lucky enough to spend some time with Rick, and he is thoroughly engaging, incredibly positive, and known by a number of original MAPS, City of OKC and downtown people as a "pied piper" of sorts. What Tramel says about him loving OKC is true. I got to show him around a year or two ago, after he hadn't been here in a while, and he was absolutely beaming.

Of course you can't discount the work of Ron Norick, who was the main visionary on the project, and who burned up the shoe leather to get it passed, but Rick was an integral part of the success. Factor in that we were lucky enough to have an outstanding get-it-done mayor in Kirk Humphreys to follow Ron, and then a mayor who was great at marketing the final product in Mick Cornett, and we have been incredibly lucky from a leadership standpoint for the past 15 years.

It's also important to remember the countless people from city managers (with a heavy emphasis on the current one, Jim Couch), MAPS office staff, other city staff, MAPS oversight committee members, and a myriad of downtown volunteers, architects, engineers and tradesmen. Perhaps most importantly, the taxpayers who repeatedly demonstrated faith and confidence in those people made it truly a community effort.

But the fact that Rick Horrow is getting a little press locally makes me really, really happy. The fact that he's able to go out and sing our song to the national and international media, due to the relocation, makes me even happier.

7/5/2008, 12:10 PM
The column:

Norick, Horrow started this NBA thing

Berry Tramel

I called up Rick Horrow on a gorgeous Fourth of July morning, and the co-pilot of Oklahoma City's great vision was in quite the festive mood.

Totally ecstatic, Horrow said. "This is a true all-American success story in every sense of the word.

The NBA has landed where not so long ago we dared not dream. Fifteen years after voters narrowly passed the first MAPS vote for civic improvements, Oklahoma City has gone major league.

And the leadership of former mayor Ron Norick, who had the good sense to hire a Miami sports consultant, ranks at the top of reasons why the Not-the-Sonics will tip off at the Ford Center in about four months.

In 1993, Norick and Horrow promised a transformed Oklahoma City if voters passed a one-cent sales tax hike. A downtown arena. A Bricktown baseball park. A new library and a renovated Civic Center. Major upgrades to the Myriad Convention Center and the state fairgrounds. Construction of a river canal.

The promise long ago was fulfilled, but the capper, that don't-say-it-too-loud-lest-you-be-called-crazy dream of making the majors, arrived only this week.

When we list the names of the people who made this possible Clay Bennett, Aubrey McClendon, Mayor Mick, Chris Paul, Hugo the Hornet don't forget Ron Norick.

"Everybody should remember this was a fortuitous conversion fostered by incredible hard work and vision and inspiration, Horrow said. "Let it be no doubt that Ron Norick was the father of this work.

The first MAPS vote was no easy sell. The no-tax crowd was out in droves, and Norick and Horrow had little history on their side.

Norick was discouraged with downtown Oklahoma City, which had only one hotel, the beleaguered Sheraton, and Norick received only pats on the head when trying to entice national chains.

Horrow, the creative force behind the Miami Sports Authority, came aboard and helped build constituents within Oklahoma City. The sports, the arts, the business.

Norick and Horrow asked citizens to believe, hope and dream.

Norick claims to be no visionary. Says he never saw the explosion that would come. Says he hoped the $300 million of public money might lead to $300 million of private investment.

"I missed that 10-fold, Norick said. "It's blown everybody away.

Downtown and Bricktown now bubble with activity, hotel rooms number more than 1,500 and the grandest catch of all, the NBA, has arrived.

Norick, who served as mayor from 1987-98, still gives speeches about Oklahoma City and holds up a penny for effect. The transformation is "based on that one penny. You can't believe the power of this one penny.

Horrow, who has worked for more than 100 cities on civic-improvement projects, counts Oklahoma City as his favorite, along with his hometown Miami, and counts Norick among his closest friends.

In March, when Oklahoma City voted on the sales-tax extension that would fund Ford Center renovations and entice the NBA to approve relocation, Horrow returned to OKC and helped with the campaign.

He even put Big League City campaign signs all over his yard in Jupiter, Fla., though few Floridians bothered to vote.

"Really the most fun I've had is Oklahoma City and South Florida, where you see the sports and entertainment infrastructures grow exponentially as they continue to believe in themselves, Horrow said.

"It's fun stuff. The most emotional, most intellectually challenging thing I've ever done is the Oklahoma City process. To see it reach this stage...

This stage includes a buzz around the city unlike anything we've ever experienced. Everywhere you go, people are talking about the NBA, unless they're on the phone trying to get their names on the ticket list.

And Horrow is spreading the buzz beyond state lines.

He has spent the last two days doing interviews not only with CNN and ESPN but newspapers from such distant shores as Cairo and Moscow. That's Egypt and Russia, not Illinois and Idaho.

Horrow's message is the same, "all about what this upstart Oklahoma City is doing with an NBA team.

"It allows me to tell the story of the last 15 years at least 100 times. Every time I tell it, I feel better about what I've done with my life and life in general.

Not such a bad feeling on the day we celebrate dreams.

9/13/2008, 10:02 AM
Pity reply.

9/13/2008, 03:35 PM
"Moneyball with Rick Horrow" can be heard from 8AM-9AM Sunday mornings on most local FOXsports affiliates, or buy clicking over to http://foxsports.com/radio.