POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 10, 2008:
But Enough about Football
Our guy jumps on the BOK bandwagon
I learned a valuable lesson this week. I try to learn at least one each week. This week's: don't wear orange on Saturday unless you want to be labeled an Oklahoma State fan (not that there is anything wrong with that).
I have previously learned this lesson, but it had nothing to do with OSU, rather the University of Tennessee. After being heckled in Knoxville on game day for wearing blue instead of divine orange, I was cognizant of my attire for future game day events. I haven't been in an environment like that for some time. My reminder came Saturday, August 30, at the official opening of the BOK Center.
Free live music, t-shirts, posters, and commemorative photos. Face painting and temporary tattoos for the kids. One dollar concessions, including pizza, hamburgers, and giant soft pretzels. And, me in an orange t-shirt. Go Cowboys!
I didn't stick out like a sore thumb. Orange was obviously widely worn, but I was one of the few who didn't care about the outcome of an OSU football game. My alma mater was playing, if you can call it that, in Norman. A halftime score of 50-0 isn't suggestive of a competitive match-up, which I could have foreshadowed for any Boomer Sooner prior to kickoff. Sorry, Chattanooga, but your playing OU is like me wrestling a Tickle-Me Elmo. Except far less amusing.
Enough about football.
The BOK Center was buzzing with Tulsans. Some carried super nachos, others held posters of Dallas Cowboys' cheerleaders, and still others, a small majority of us, wandered aimlessly in search of Joe Andoe's artwork. We were a sad bunch.
"I don't know," one BOK staff member would echo to the other.
"Is that it, in the floor?" one would guess.
Personally, I spoke with more than five official-looking staff members and no one could provide me with the location of Joe Andoe's work. Apparently it is to be located on the north side of the building by the concession stands. I didn't see it.
The most well-informed staff member (I spoke with) told me that some of the art had yet to arrive. I immediately lumped Mr. Andoe's work here--in route, after making several trips around the arena on each of its three floors. Hey, at least I burned some calories to make up for my first Dippin' Dots.
Between art scavenger hunts on the second and third floors, my girlfriend, her mother and I settled into one of the better seats to enjoy The Fabulous Mid Life Crisis Band, a cover band specializing in classic rock 'n roll (The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Eagles, etc.).
We tried out 10 different seats, all with a fair amount of legroom, my biggest complaint at 6'4". Most arenas of this size (18,000 seats) design their seats for individuals towering at 5'2". Folding myself into a seat of that size causes me discomfort. With the extra legroom, I enjoyed my soft pretzel even more than I would have had my knees been lodged in my throat.
I think earlier this year I almost instigated a fight at the Tulsa Convention Center because of the undersized seating. Sir, if you remember me, I got very little out of my right knee and its continual contact with your right ear. It had everything to do with me being unable to fit into my allotted space, mister, and nothing to do with you or your ear. My apologies.
The afternoon also marked my first public sighting of Ms. Kathy Taylor. I expected her to embrace me or at the very least recognize me, but she passed by without stopping for a compliment or handshake. We were so close. I hope you were merely playing it cool, Ms. Taylor. If so, well played, ma'am. If not, your loss!
Before my run-in with the mayor, I toured the locker rooms and other areas that will later be off limits to me, unless I am to be signed by the Oilers or go on tour with Janet Jackson (at the BOK on Oct. 26). I so badly wanted to climb into one of the metallic bath treatments, but was made to feel awkward about doing so by security. I was fully clothed. Live a little, guys!
As I've mentioned before, as I child I dreamed of being a professional athlete, so naturally I was curious about the locker rooms for such athletes. BOK's not Madison Square Garden or the Staples Center, but I can dream.
Yao Ming may very well occupy this locker room in October (Oct. 12 to be exact), I thought.
I made my way back to the floor. As we re-entered the arena, the three of us daydreamed about being welcomed by 18,000 cheering fans. It was short-lived when a man cut me off.
They're cheering for me, guy. What are you doing? Trying to steal my thunder, my thoughts were accompanied with a dirty look.
The grand opening was a well-attended event. It was a fun, cost-effective way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The booths had games for the children. Some were giving away free t-shirts, others, like the Cherokee Casino, were handing out free lip balm, hand sanitizer, bottle openers and other things I deemed unworthy of standing in line for, while local musicians filled the arena with their tunes.
I heard many proud Tulsans comment on the beauty of the arena's interior. While there has been some criticism of the exterior of the building between rust and overall aesthetics, I'm lukewarm about it. There were also grumbles about limited parking near the arena, but I didn't have this problem.
The arena will have already kicked off its busy schedule by the time you read this.
Acts range from Kenny Chesney and LeAnn Rimes (Sept. 10) to the 2008 Tour of Gymnastics (Oct. 9), Metallic (Oct. 18) and Nine Inch Nails (Oct. 22). I've marked my calendar for the Oilers' opening night on Oct. 25. To check the schedule of upcoming events, head to bokcenter.com.
August 30's grand opening was a great introduction to the arena and the promise for further vitalization of this part of town. Based on the day's crowd, I'd venture to say many Tulsans are curious about this arena and the impact it can have on the community.
From here on out you're going to be hard pressed to find a $1 Pepsi or hot dog. You'll have to settle for Neil Diamond (Oct. 21) or Cirque de Soleil (Oct. 30).
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