Executives with the BOK Center’s management company talked through their decision to move a popular downtown event inside with the authority that oversees the arena.
While the state and Tulsa County keep hitting new highs in the coronavirus pandemic, Arvest Winterfest starts next week. It was announced earlier this month it would be inside the BOK Center. Assistant General Manager Joe Giordano told the Tulsa Public Facilities Authority last week that from his perspective, moving Winterfest’s ice skating inside is safer than leaving it outside.
"The ice rink itself is, in fact, 8,000 square feet larger than the one that we would use outside. Using a lower capacity allows for that alone to really enhance the social distancing opportunity. We felt it a lot more advantageous for masks wearing and enforcement inside," Giordano said.
Giordano told TPFA the BOK Center's ventilation system exceeds Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards, and with Winterfest indoors, the flow of people can be better managed, there are already protective shields set up at concession stands, and ticketing and other transactions will be contactless.
"We certainly didn’t take that decision lightly, and of course we understand it’s counterintuitive to do so. But, you know, when you kind of lay out that pros and cons list to make Winterfest even happen this year, that was the best decision that we felt confident in," Giordano said.
Aside from a June campaign rally for President Trump and an October bull riding event, the arena has been dark during the pandemic as promoters cancel events nationwide due to safety concerns.
The Tulsa Oilers hockey team will play five games there starting next month in a shortened ECHL season.