It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. With apologies to Charles Dickens, it was Tulsa in 2010.
It seemed that for every home game at the brand-new ONEOK Field, the mayor and city council found something new to bicker about. For every step forward PLANiTULSA took, it was required to take two steps back. And yes, Tulsa's roads are still terrible. And yes, there's still construction on them around seemingly every corner.
But, despite the highs and lows, Tulsa continues to develop and grow, especially downtown -- Urban Tulsa, get it?
Here at UTW, we're dedicated to bringing you the best of the best, the worst of the worst and everything in between. That said, welcome to our annual Best & Worst issue, where we look back on the good, the bad and the ugly of 2010. It's a learning tool, after all -- it prevents us from making the same damn mistakes year after year.
Check back with us next week for our annual Hot 100, but until then, grab a seat and get schooled on the Tulsa of 2010.
Best Thing About 2010:
For a moment, forget about who won and who lost. Political preference aside, the best thing about 2010 was the woman vs. woman race for the gubernatorial seat. This was a historical year for Oklahoma but as a race goes, someone had to lose and someone had to win.
Worst Thing About 2010:
Despite the public confessions of each party wanting to reconcile with the other, Mayor Bartlett and the City Council seem to have a new disagreement each week. In the midst of the city crisis, it would make sense for Tulsa leaders to band together and pull the city out of the turmoil. Nope, not these leaders--they would rather debate the best course of action and then continually veto one another so that no action whatsoever is taken.
Best New Development of 2010:
Baseball is baseball but when baseball is played in Tulsa's new ONEOK Field, suddenly it is much more spectacular. The new stadium exceeded all the hype around it and set the stage for a record season attendance for the resident Tulsa Drillers and professional baseball here since 1905. A grand total of 408,183 spun the turnstiles for peanuts, popcorn and cold brewskis this summer adding new eyes and positive impressions toward a rapidly redeveloping downtown.
Not Tired of Hearing About:
Yes, it was a tragedy. Yes, animals and environment will be affected for years to come. Yes, it is sad. Now it's time to stop talking about it. Seriously. The BP oil spill was the topic of conversation for months and still surfaces from time to time. No matter how much gabbing the world did about the spill, no one really had a solution. So naturally, instead of shutting up and working harder to figure it out, complaining about it seemed much more productive. Are we done yet?
Best Sports Story of the Year:
In order to be the best, you have to beat the best, and that's precisely what the University of Tulsa football team did this season by traveling up to South Bend, IN, and defeating Notre Dame. Sure, the Fighting Irish have struggled in recent years and have a new coach hoping to return them to glory, but a win at Notre Dame Stadium is the Holy Grail in college football and a game of a lifetime.
Most Poignant Moment:
Drive down 3rd St. from Peoria to Utica and take in the rockin' spirit that now exists in Leon Russell Road. A longtime local hero, Russell has now found a permanent spot in Tulsa and has quite literally left a mark. This long-awaited street naming came at an appropriate space and time--right before Leon's hometown performance with tourmate, Elton John, who inspired the current roadshow and reintroduced a native son to a new generation.
Worst Sports Story of the Year:
Those who break the rules deserve to be punished. That's the way things work in America ... and in Oklahoma high school football. Jenks head coach Allan Trimble learned that the hard way when he was suspended for eight months by the OSSAA after violating recruiting and eligibility rules. In January, Booker T. Washington athletics director and head football coach Antwain Jimmerson resigned after rules violations were discovered. Here's hoping for fair play in 2011.
After eight years, Tulsa had grown accustomed to the multi-genre music festival and industry conference lovingly coined, Dfest. Alas, this year Dfest went on hiatus and made the heartbreaking decision to forego 2010. With any luck, this just means that next year will be bigger and better than ever. Please!
After a year of driving in the dark, someone at the top of the totem pole must have said, 'let there be light.' The best surprise was the sudden illumination of the highways in town. While this may have aided Tulsa's budget crisis a bit, it is nice to be able to clearly see the texting and driving idiot two lanes over.
Lights On! at Utica Square has the potential to become a favorite Tulsa pre-Christmas event. The area is beautiful and there is a bit of class that goes into the light display. This year proved a little less than stunning as time has taken a toll on the lights and there are more than a few outages. Maybe Tulsans are starting new traditions but the crowds seem extra thin this year, too. Maybe 2011 is a good chance to step it up and put the sparkle back in this fall festivity by re-inventing this tired, old tradition--at least they could light up all the trees around the Square.
Although the move was announced in 2009, the Tulsa Shock didn't officially become Tulsa's team until the 2010 season began. While the city's first top-level professional team struggled in its first season, the Shock have the potential to have a huge impact on T-Town's sports scene. Could another pro team soon follow?
Best UTW Cover Story of 2010:
Once again, to choose just one cover story that we loved was too difficult. The tie is between "Not Always Second Fiddle" (June 24-30) and "Never Underestimate an Epidemic" (July 29-Aug. 4). "Not Always Second Fiddle" gave an inside look to the responsibilities and life of Terry Simonson. "Never Underestimate an Epidemic" shot straight to the core of meth mixing in Tulsa.
Little Piece of Tulsa We Miss Most:
FILE PHOTO/MICHAEL COOPER
A sad farewell to the Admiral Twin Drive-In. Aside from being a classic icon of Tulsa, the Twin served as (mostly) wholesome summer fun and a great backdrop for highway travelers. Here's to hoping the Twin can be resurrected but goodbye for now.
Best Foot Forward:
Somehow, spending ridiculous amounts of money on Tulsa Metro Chamber events seems a little ridiculous. So glad we're not the only ones who think so. Kudos to Tulsa for cutting the chamber budget in an effort to help resolve the city's budget problems.
Best/Worst Toss Up:
No one is arguing that Oklahoma education needs a boost. So thank you for trying to think of a way to do that in SQ 744, but perhaps a required spending amount isn't the best way to make sure kids have a great education. Good try but surely pulling funds from other underfunded state groups is not the only way to ensure Okla. kids a competitive edge. Keep trying though. A better solution is bound to pop up.
Most Shocking Moment:
Tornados, ice and scorching summers--so, bring it on, right? Yea, we can take what Mother Nature dishes out, but earthquakes? What the heck? An earthquake large enough (5.1 on the Richter) to rumble from Norman to Tulsa and beyond rattled nerves in a whole new way this fall. Dear Mother: Perhaps Okla. should retain all past natural disasters and not develop any new ones. Ok? Ok. A New Year's blessing: May our state be safe from tsumanis.
Best Boost for the City's Ego:
Just in its third year and the BOK Center makes the top 10 list of national arena venues. That is impressive. Based on ticket sales, Tulsa's very own BOK Center made No. 5 on Pollstar Magazine's list. Not too shabby.
Navigating pothole-filled roads isn't our idea of fun, but we are getting used to dodging the orange cones that seem to be spontaneously sprouting like mushroom rings around the city. Progress as promised has never been so annoying. After several years of unkempt roads, Tulsa is finally fixing them but -motorists should be prepared to spend an extra year's worth of driving time winding through the never-ending construction. Seems we could learn from this exercise by doing a little more regular maintenance, built-into the system.
Saddest Business Closure:
FILE PHOTO/AMY FROST
Goodbye Rehab Lounge, it was fun while it lasted. After 5 years, 2010 saw the end of the nightlife hotspot. Many an evening would Tulsans (largely consisting of the UTW crew) dance the night away with drink in hand at this local favorite. Thanks for the memories, Rehab.
Best Random Happening:
Atlanta, Sydney, Athens, Beijing, London ... Tulsa? Those first five cities are Summer Olympic hosts. Could Tulsa one day join that list? A committee was formed to move forward with Tulsa's bid for the 2020 Olympics, but that plan hit a snag when the United States Olympic Committee decided not to bid for that year's games. That doesn't rule out 2024 and beyond, however, and the initiative taken is what really stands out.
Marion Jones has been called a lot of things in her life: NCAA champion, Olympic gold medalist, track and field superstar, liar and cheater, to name a few. But now, she finds herself here in Tulsa, rededicated to a game she loves and suiting up for the Tulsa Shock. We're glad you've made it back, Marion. Tulsa is happy to have you.
Best Return of an Old Friend:
The man who led the Tulsa Golden Hurricane to the 1981 NIT Championship has returned to T-Town as the head coach and general manager of the WNBA's Tulsa Shock. Nolan Richardson is still rollin', and we count ourselves among the many who are happy to be along for the ride. Welcome back, old friend.
Best Success Story:
This year's holiday festivities were a huge hit and downtown Tulsa was buzzing with excitement for Winterfest, McNellie's Holiday Parade of Lights and GLOW initiative. Between the outdoor ice skating rink, massive Christmas floats and an extra special 40-foot balloon named Blitzen, it would've been easy to mistake Tulsa for Santa's hometown at the North Pole. Ready to do it again next year.
Best Birthday Celebration:
Think, Think, Think. That's right, UTW turned 19 this year. It doesn't seem possible, but Tulsa's favorite, only, ever-lovin' newsweekly will be 20 in July of 2011! It has been a wild rollercoaster and worth every minute. Here's to another 20 years Tulsa!
Missing on the Best Behavior Chart:
It may take two to tango but this year the dunce hat goes to the Tulsa City Council. We've been on record as a fan of the council, its works and pomps, in previous administrations but the current group needs not only a civics lesson but a refresher course on being a Tulsan. They are our public servants, after all. Maybe they should be required to recite an oath every day or wear a distinctive uniform, or sash, as a reminder. No matter the topic, the council is oppositionally defiant to most everything the mayor says. Maybe in the coming year, the council can agree to disagree on some issues and learn to play nice for the sake of progress.
Best Joint Effort:
Three local favorites came together and put on a music festival that will (hopefully) live on for years to come. Free Tulsa! brought 125 bands together on eight stages and produced a sea of music lovers flooded Main St. to participate. Cain's Ballroom, Sound Pony and Crystal Pistol are to be thanked for two days of music madness.
Personality Most Dominant:
This may only be his first year in office but the name Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr. rang a little like Caesar in 2010. Hopefully, "ze tall Napoleon" can bring a little Reagan to the table in 2011.
Best Thing That Hasn't Happened Yet:
Well, it didn't happen this year but maybe by this time next year the Oklahoma Historical Society will be breaking ground on the Oklahoma Pop Museum. This proposed 45,000-square-foot facility is slated to stand in the heart of a growing and vibrant Brady Arts District. Highlighting Oklahoma's contributions to popular culture, this state-of-the-art museum will be a great addition to Tulsa's growing downtown. Cross your fingers, but don't hold your breath.
Healed Throughout 2010:
He may be throwing for the Rams in St. Louis but Sam Bradford is definitely Sooner born and Sooner bred, and worthy of Urban Tulsans' consideration. After a very rough last season and a final blow to his shoulder in the beginning of his senior year, this Okie was put on the disabled list and many local sports fans wrung their hands for his sake. Well, a year's rest and recuperation done him good. Bradford is back in all his glory. It isn't necessary to become a St. Louis Rams fan but a little red dirt pride crops up when we watch Bradford recovered from that once busted-up shoulder and then nail his receiver like he was playing a little backyard ball.
Sad To Go:
The economy seemed to gut-punch T-Town at every turn this year and out with the money went several Tulsa Park community centers. Students and families once relied on these facilities as safehouses and somewhere to spend those after school hours. Maybe as the city rebounds these can be reinstated.
Person We'll Miss Most:
As the news of Pastor Billy Joe Daughtery's death rippled through Tulsa, the gasps and heartache were felt far beyond his church walls. The founder of one of Tulsa's largest churches, Victory Christian Center, and a active humanitarian in the inner-city, Daughtery definitely left a mark on the city and is greatly missed by many.
In hopes of aiding a failing city budget, Shop Tulsa is a welcomed addition to Tulsa. Encouraging residents to buy Christmas presents, groceries, entertainment and everything else locally, the Shop Tulsa initiative helps by boosting the tax revenue the city pulls in. So remember to keep shopping Tulsa and benefitting home sweet home.
Happy to See:
With all the talent and potential in Green Country, it was only a matter of time before someone came along and separated the absolute best from the almost absolute best. UTW sponsored another year of Absolute Best and the extended play, dance version, our Absolute Best of Tulsa Music Awards. And how about that swank Urby Statuette! Look out, MTV.
Best Reason to Give Cheers:
Raise a glass to the mayor for finding a way to return "Tulsa's finest" to full force. Cheers. And, a second toast: Here's to a scandal-free 2011. Listen up, lawmen, be true to the blue.
It just keeps standing there, staring at drivers as they pass by at 40 mph. What can be done with Tulsa Drillers' old stadium at Expo Square? Now that the Drillers' have moved on, the diamond at the fairgrounds is growing lacklustrous and no one is quite sure what to do with it. In the meantime, just keep passing it by and surely someone will come along and breathe a new life into the old ballpark.
Predictions for 2011:
With Arkansas River development finally moving forward, the area will, at long last, spring to life.
The NCAA Tournament will be a rousing success at the BOK Center, inspiring future tournament trips to Tulsa.
With a season under their belts, Nolan Richardson and the Tulsa Shock improve on 2010's record.
The Mayor and City Council will finally agree on something.
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