The sky above the Tulsa Air and Space Museum will be filled with rockets--racing rockets, that is--this spring when the fledgling Rocket Racing League comes to town as part of the museum's annual Aviator's Ball weekend.
The QuikTrip Air and Rocket Racing Show will take place Saturday, April 24 at the museum, 3624 N. 74th East Avenue.
Billed as a new entertainment sports league that combines the exhilaration of racing with the power of rocket engines, the Rocket Racing League will feature so-called Rocket Racers competing against each other over four laps on a five-mile, Formula 1-type closed-circuit raceway in the sky. The pilots will see the raceway via in-panel and 3D helmet displays, while spectators follow the action overhead and on multiple large projection screens.
Jim Bridenstine--executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum, and owner and chief pilot of one of the seven teams in the Rocket Racing League--characterizes the races as unique.
"Nobody in the world has ever seen anything like this before," he said.
Museum officials unveiled the event at a press conference earlier this week after receiving multiple calls about it once it was posted on the museum's Web site. That kind of excitement is exactly what Bridenstine has been trying to generate.
"As a museum, we're really looking to raise our level of awareness," he said.
Bridenstine hopes that higher profile will help the museum in its effort to land one of three Space Shuttle vehicles that will be sent to organizations around the country by NASA, once the fleet is retired. The museum would need to raise $100 million to build an addition to its campus to house the shuttle, should it receive one.
Call the museum at 834-9900 for ticket information.
Countdown to the Pitch
With piles of snow and ice still persisting in some area parking lots, spring may seem like a long time away--but not for the front-office staff of the Tulsa Drillers.
The minor-league baseball team's administrative staff will move into its new digs at ONEOK Field during the last weekend of February, according to Brian Carroll, the team's director of media relations.
"Our offices should be far enough along so that we can do that," he said. "Despite the weather and everything that's happened, we're still on schedule."
The team's debut in the new ballpark won't come until April 8, when Tulsa plays host to Corpus Christi. But the Drillers will begin doing business out of ONEOK Field for several weeks before that, finally bidding adieu to its longtime home at Drillers Stadium. Carroll said there is a great deal of anticipation about the move among staff members.
"That's probably an understatement," he said. "Every time I go in (the new offices), I get more excited."
To prepare for the season, the team is holding a job fair from 8am to 2pm Saturday, Feb. 20 at the downtown Crowne Plaza Hotel, 100 E. 2nd St. More than 200 part-time, game-day positions are open, including such positions as servers, bartenders, cooks, warehouse assistants, vendors, cashiers, ushers, ticket takers, concourse game operators, merchandise associates--even some grounds crew workers, Carroll said.
All interested workers are encouraged to attend the job fair, but anyone who is unable to attend and still wishes to apply can do so through the Drillers' Web site, tulsadrillers.com.
All hiring managers will be at the job fair for interviews, and hiring will be done on the spot.
Opening night is already proving to be a hot ticket. Carroll said the contest is nearly sold out, but a few general admission tickets for seating on the outfield grass berms remain. For ticket information, call 744-5901 or visit the Web site.
"We're all excited for April 8," he said. "It's getting here quickly, but in some ways, not quickly enough."
Rubble Becoming Rocks
Construction work should begin in earnest soon on a planned retail development on North Peoria Avenue, according to an official of the organization that owns and manages the property.
Ruben Gant, executive director of the Greenwood Community Development Corporation, said the Shoppes on Peoria project is still scheduled to be completed and open by fall. He said construction documents are being finished, and the permitting process will begin by the end of February.
"We've been meeting with architects and making some final decisions on materials and painting," he said.
A groundbreaking ceremony featuring a variety of city officials was held at the site, 1731 N. Peoria Ave., on Dec. 4 to draw attention to the project, a retail shopping center that lies just north of the newly opened Gateway Market, north Tulsa's only full-service grocery store. The 3-acre site will serve as home to a 23,000-square-foot development designed to hold up to 12 tenants.
Gant said little has changed at the site since that groundbreaking; although, the relocation of a sanitary sewer and a good deal of dirt work has been completed. But that should change soon, particularly if things warm up and dry out, he said.
"The weather has held us back tremendously," he said. "We hope it gets better. We need some cooperation from Mother Nature."
Only seven tenants had been lined up for the development in December, but Gant said that number has increased to 10 throughout the past several weeks--a figure he expects to climb even higher.
"We should open up full, if everybody sticks around," he said.
Among the businesses planning to open locations at the Shoppes on Peoria are Tropical Smoothie Café, EB Games, the More Space Place, United Parcel Service, a shoe store and a party supply store. Gant said two food establishments and an electronics firm also will be part of the mix.
The project was hatched by the North Tulsa Economic Development Initiative, the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation and the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce. It will be paid for by CDBG funds that were approved by the City Council. The development is expected to create up to 50 new jobs.
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