Vision for the Future
Boathouses, Finish Line Tower, MAPS 3 Projects
Oklahoma City is one of the country’s most exciting and unique cities with a heritage steeped in pioneer spirit, but always with an eye toward the future. And nowhere is this more apparent than at the Boathouse District. A dry riverbed only a few short years ago, the Oklahoma River has been transformed into one of the city’s crown jewels. The Chesapeake Boathouse was the first structure to be built on the newly rejuvenated river in 2006, and it has quickly become a center of community activity and a focal point for national and international racing events.
The vision for the Oklahoma River began many years ago with the first MAPS initiative spearheaded by then-Mayor Ron Norick and civic leader Ray Ackerman. Today, it is the people of Oklahoma City who’ve created the enthusiasm that caused Rowing News magazine to hail the city as “America’s Next Great Rowing City.” And it is the corporate community working in partnership with City leaders who continue to fuel this world-class development.
The vision for the Oklahoma River began with construction of the Chesapeake Boathouse in 2006 and has since been powered by a group of corporate sponsors led by our POWER 10 Partners: Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy and OGE.
Today, development of the Oklahoma River in the area now becoming known as the Boathouse District is gathering momentum. Showcasing iconic architecture by Rand Elliott, Elliott & Associates, the Boathouse District includes…
Chesapeake Boathouse – Opened in 2006 as OKC’s community boathouse, the Chesapeake Boathouse anchors the district and is headquarters for RIVERSPORT community rowing, kayaking, dragon boating, cycling, running, and fitness center activities.
Devon Boathouse – The Devon Boathouse serves as the Oklahoma City University Boathouse as well as headquarters for the OKC National High Performance Center and is one of the world’s premier training facilities for both rowing and canoe/kayak. The $10 million boathouse houses the world’s first dynamic rowing tank, a state of the art hypoxic (high altitude) training room, an indoor propulsion swim pool, a wide variety of cross training apparatus, and extensive strength and conditioning equipment. Offering incredible views of the Oklahoma River, the Devon Boathouse is also available for private rental.
Chesapeake Finish Line Tower – Soaring 70-feet above the Oklahoma River with the downtown skyline as its backdrop, the Chesapeake Finish Line Tower is a focal point on the river. This four-story finish tower meets both ICF (canoe/kayak) and FISA (rowing) international racing standards and its incredible spaces feature 360 degree views of the OKC metro available for private rental.
SandRidge Youth Pavilion – Oklahoma City-area youth will soon have access to a variety of adventure activities at a new youth pavilion planned for the Boathouse District. SandRidge Energy is donating funds for construction of a youth pavilion and adventure attractions in the Boathouse District at the Oklahoma River. The youth pavilion is designed to provide adventure activities that will include the SandRidge Sky Trail, the world’s tallest adventure course, zip line across the Oklahoma River, and much more.
University of Oklahoma Boathouse – Construction drawings are being finalized on this university boathouse which will be home to OU Women’s Rowing.
University of Central Oklahoma Boathouse – Each boathouse has a unique personality, and the UCO boathouse will bring arts to the river with the addition of a Jazz Lab and art space. Drawings are being finalized.
Oklahoma River “Stadium”
Oklahoma City’s recent passage of MAPS 3 created $60 million in new projects to be constructed at the Oklahoma River. Grandstands, a floating stage, permanent lighting, wind screens and additional race infrastructure will create a River Stadium that can be used for race events as well as community activities. MAPS 3 funding will also be used to create a world-class whitewater rafting and kayaking center.
Whitewater Rafting & Kayaking Center
Imagine a Saturday morning spent whitewater kayaking in the Boathouse District. Or perhaps whitewater rafting with the family. It will all become a reality when the $35 million whitewater rafting and kayaking center is completed. Geared for both elite athlete training and family fun, the whitewater center will be adjacent to the Oklahoma River and will be completed as part of MAPS 3, a one-cent sales tax initiative dedicated to metro area projects.
RIVERSPORT, Regattas, Olympic Dreams
It takes more than a river or buildings to create the kind of synergy that can transform a city. Development of the boathouses, finish line tower, river stadium and whitewater center are all pivotal for the future of the Oklahoma River. But we never lose sight of the people – and the experiences – that are truly transformative.
On a community level, OKC RIVERSPORT offers rowing, kayaking, cycling, running, fitness and more to hundreds of people from across the metro. The Corporate Rowing League has grown to more than 40 teams who practice weekly, then race for office bragging rights, and a new Dragon Boat League is being launched. Expanding youth outreach programs are providing life-changing opportunities. Adult and youth rowing teams are on the water daily, and when racing events are held, the city turns out to the tune of 50,000+ spectators for Oklahoma City’s premier fall event, the Oklahoma Regatta Festival held each October.
Nationally, thousands of rowers and kayakers have made their way to Oklahoma City to race in events ranging from the annual Head of the Oklahoma rowing regatta to the USA Canoe/Kayak Olympic Trials for Flatwater Sprint in 2008. International athletes compete at the Oklahoma River on a regular basis, but never more memorably than in 2007 and 2011 at the USA Rowing World Challenge, a challenge to be repeated in 2015.
In July, 2009, the Oklahoma River and OKC Boathouse Foundation were named a U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Site, and we are now training Olympic hopefuls in both rowing and canoe/kayak at the OKC National High Performance Center.
A milestone moment for the OKC Boathouse Foundation happened in 2012 when eight rowers competed in the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. The achievement is proof that Oklahoma City is preparing our nation’s top athletes to fulfill their dreams.