Tulsa's New BOK Center Arena

Two Oklahoma major players team up to build arena.

January 02, 2009 |

In August 2008, Tulsa Vision Builders, a joint collaboration between Flintco Inc. and Manhattan Construction Co., completed construction of the $196-million BOK (Bank of Oklahoma) Center multipurpose arena for the city of Tulsa, OK. The three-year construction of the BOK Center was funded with $178 million in public funds and $18 million in private donations, and is part of a long-term development plan for the city of Tulsa known as the Vision 2025 long-range development initiative.

The BOK Center was designed by architect Cesar Pelli, and Matrix Architects, Engineers and Planners, Inc. of Tulsa is the architect of record, with support from Odell & Associates, Inc., of Charlotte, NC.

Operating as Tulsa Vision Builders, the joint effort between Flintco and Manhattan Construction involved Flintco providing construction management services with the preconstruction phase overseen by Manhattan Construction. Both companies combined for the actual construction of the BOK Center itself.

The 134-foot-high, 565,000-square-foot arena is built on a four-block area and required the acquisition and demolition of 20 existing buildings. DT Specialized Services of Catoosa, OK, demolished the existing structures using conventional methods, and construction began in 2005.

“The construction of the BOK Center was unusual because of the quantity of custom work specified,” explained Bart Boatright, vice president of Flintco and project director for Tulsa Vision Builders. “Practically everything was custom built, and the complexity of the work initially made it difficult to get companies to bid on the jobs.”

Steel and Glass Exterior

One of the most difficult portions of the construction was probably the 600-foot-long, 103-foot-tall glass exterior icon wall, which incorporates a privately funded advanced light display, according to Boatright. It cantilevers outward 75 to 80 feet beyond the arena and wraps spirally around the exterior of the arena. Each glass panel in the icon wall is a different size and shape. The 39,700-square-foot wall was constructed by American Glass & Metal of Tulsa using 1,600 panels, each weighing 350 pounds. The entire glass wall is tilted at a 5-degree angle. Seventy-five thousand square feet of glass was required for the complete arena.

All the exterior walls of the arena were built with 5-degree and 10-degree tilts, and each wall is radiused. To finish the exterior walls, the circumference of the arena was clad with 33,000 exterior steel panels that cover an area of 350,000 square feet by A. Zahner Co. Architectural Metals of Kansas City, MO.

The Midwest Division of Schuff Steel provided 4,000 tons of structural steel for the arena, and 30,000 cubic yards of concrete was required, with the concrete work done by Williams Construction of Pryor, OK, and Oakridge Builders of Tulsa.

The arena's ceiling is 120 feet above the bowl area floor and is supported with long span columnless trusses at the top. Each long span truss had to be set in place with at least three cranes.

Interior Technology

Also unusual from a construction and engineering standpoint are the LED ribbon graphics, signage, and a huge center-hung scoreboard. The 30-foot by 33-foot hanging scoreboard is suspended from the ceiling above the floor of the arena and weighs approximately 50,000 pounds. The scoreboard, custom built by Daktronics, has four 8-foot by 14-foot high-definition (HD) screens, four 8-foot by 8-foot HD screens, one wraparound-type 9-foot HD screen, and a 3-foot wraparound HD screen. The $3.6-million scoreboard, which was paid for with private donations, also contains a video recording system. Additionally, a 930-foot-long HD ribbon screen wraps around the three level seating area, and each HD screen is capable of advanced graphics.


Electrical work was done by Oil Capital Electric of Tulsa, with mechanical and plumbing work done by McIntosh Services of Tulsa, and HVAC work was contracted to Matherly Mechanical Contractors of Oklahoma City. Mechanical and plumbing work required included installation of 37 public restrooms, as well as 14 concession areas including seven restaurants, and press areas and luxury suites complete with kitchens.

Workers also installed more than 130,000 square feet of terrazzo flooring in the arena's main concourse using an aggregate containing 70-percent mother of pearl. Additionally, $1.5 million was allocated to art within the arena due to a city of Tulsa requirement that at least 1 percent of the construction costs of any municipal project be used for public art.

The completed Tulsa BOK Center arena will be used for concerts, indoor football, hockey, and basketball games thanks to an adjustable seating configuration, which can vary from a minimum capacity of 13,644 persons up to a capacity of 19,199 for center stage concerts.

Tulsa's Vision 2025

Other projects being launched as part of Tulsa's Vision 2025 plan include $42 million in renovations for the Tulsa Convention Center, $20 million in renovations and improvements of downtown streets, and a $4-million parking garage renovation and expansion.

“We were enthusiastic about making the BOK Center a Tulsa-based project with Tulsa contractors,” Boatright said. “Every time you do a postcard project like this, you take a lot of pride in trying to do your best for your hometown, and a challenging project of this type always encourages everyone to put forth the extra effort to make everything perfect.”

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