FEB 2016

ConventionSouth magazine is the leading resource for meeting planners who book all types of events, conventions, conferences and group travel in the south.

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⎜ ConventionSouth ⎜ F E B R U A R Y 2 0 1 6 w w w . c o n v e n t i o n s o u t h . c o m 44 Oklahoma E V E N T P L A N N E R ' S G U I D E T O OK S C E N I C B Y W A Y Oklahoma highways offer scenic backdrops of forests, lakes and mountains. BY D. FRAN MORLEY At noon on April 22, 1889, the first day homesteading was permitted, 50,000 people swarmed into Oklahoma to claim their 160 acres each. Those who tried to beat the noon starting gun were called Sooners, hence the state's nickname. Today, people are still "swarming" into Oklahoma. "Located in the heart of the country, Oklahoma embodies the best of the east, west, north and south, and is the premier choice for meetings and conventions," said Jennifer Mullins, director of travel promotions for Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation. "Easily accessible, Oklahoma has a extensive network of convention centers and meeting facilities capable of hosting everything from intimate gatherings to the large-scale conferences." Oklahoma City Much is happening in Oklahoma City, accord- ing to Dennis Johnston, CDME, vice president of sales for Visit Oklahoma City. A $252 mil- lion budgeted convention center is set to open in 2019 across the street from the Chesapeake Energy Arena. The new convention center is expected to feature nearly 200,000 square feet of exhibit space, a 35,000-square-foot ballroom and 50,000 square feet of meeting space. A 279,000-square-foot expo building at Oklahoma State Fair Park is expected to be complete in 2016. Johnston listed several downtown developments expected over the next few years: a $25 million public whitewa- ter kayaking facility, a new streetcar line and a 70-acre park. Photo Courtesy Oklahoma Tourism

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