Construction continues on to day two as Oklahoma Christian University’s old cafeteria transforms into a new event center. John Hermes, the chief operating officer, said the space needs some cosmetic changes and new technology before it can be a fully functioning event center in mid-December.
Hermes said the space will be useful throughout the year for events, including high school banquets, Oklahoma City and Edmond chamber meetings and more.
The new event center will include new laser projectors, new partitions, additional carts for audio and video elements, new controllable and dimmable LED lighting, digital displays for all of the rooms and digital signage in the lobby.
Blake Mayfield, the events and technical media director, said the new space will make Oklahoma Christian a more prominent space among the local event centers.
“It puts us on the stage of other convention centers in the OKC and Edmond area,” Mayfield said. “From what I understand and what I’ve been told, it has state of the art technology, events management, A/V needs, all of the above.”
Hermes said the updated space will open doors for groups on and off campus.
“The desire is to renovate that space to make it usable for all those groups, including a lot of on-campus groups that need a bigger space for gatherings,” Hermes said.
The new event center is part of a multi-step renovation plan. Hermes said the project began a few semesters ago in 2020.
“This was really back when we added the Branch on,” Hermes said.“This was really going to be phase 2 of that, and that was to renovate the old dining space to be used for campus, but also we have a lot of people from off-campus, alumni and other connections in the community, who want that event space.”
However, the renovation had to wait until the needed $1.3 million had been donated. COVID-19 also delayed the availability of contractors like Smith and Pickle, who is the primary contractor group assigned to the project.
Mayfield said events in the new space will bring new opportunities for future staff members.
“There eventually will be an events center coordinator whose sole job is the event center and the coordination of it,” Mayfield said.
On-campus groups will also be allowed to use the space, provided they make a reservation and provide funding if the university must provide services like set-up or cleaning. Outside groups will rent the space at a rental cost.
Mayfield said one potential challenge will be juggling the multiple venues on campus, including Baugh Auditorium, Scott Chapel, Judd Theater, Adams Recital Hall, Macintosh Conservatory and conference rooms elsewhere on campus.
“Between the current venues I currently oversee, adding another event center that gets booked throughout the semester and throughout the season, there will come a time where everything from Baugh Auditorium to the events center will be booked,” Mayfield said. “It’s just making sure their needs are fulfilled.”
Mayfield said the new space will be good for everyone.
“This new event center is a great new opportunity for the campus as a whole,” Mayfield said.