The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 17, 2012

Convention Hall survives uncertain times, reopens to pomp, fanfare this afternoon


Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — During Thursday’s celebration of the renovated Convention Hall, Mayor Bill Shewey made a funny.

Shewey joked about having the key to John Criner’s bulldozer, referencing a comment made by his predecessor after the 2010 Gateway Enid bond issue initiative failed.

Criner, who was upset by the vote, said: “I want to know which way the key turns on that bulldozer (to knock down Convention Hall).”

Thankfully, the Friends of Convention Hall formed to save the building. After discussions with city leaders, the plan was developed to renovate Convention Hall, creating a 10,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom, a 3,000-square-foot smaller ballroom and flexible space for trade shows or stage presentations.

These welcome renovations are part of the Enid Renaissance Project, which also includes building a new Enid Event Center, which is under construction. Kudos to city officials and venue manager Global Spectrum for their hard work.

Our historic Convention Hall has serious staying power. Check out this comment from nearly nine decades ago:

“Enid has the finest Convention Hall, the most modern in architecture, complete in detail and equipment, and its auditorium — has the largest seating capacity of any city in the state of Oklahoma,” J.H. McKiddy of the Enid Chamber of Commerce wrote in 1924.

Since then, it’s seen Mark Price, “Dillinger” and donkey basketball.

The historic building at 301 S. Independence will reopen today as Enid’s newest conference center. It will feature a 10,000-square-foot ballroom, a 3,000-square-foot ballroom and flexible space for either trade shows or stage presentations.

Now it’s time to celebrate. Today’s public open house will start after a Veterans Day parade beginning at 1:30 p.m. The open house will be 2-5 p.m. and include free food and drinks, family activities and performances on the Grand Ballroom stage.

Parking is located at:

• The corner of Independence and Cherokee, immediately west of Convention Hall.

• Along downtown streets — Cherokee between Adams and Independence, Maine between Washington and Grand, Independence between Maine and Broadway, and Washington between Cherokee and Maine.

• The private Security National Bank parking lot at Maine and Independence.

We’ll see you there!ۉ