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OSSAA agrees to five-year extension with State Fair Park to host basketball, wrestling state tournaments

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Jim Norick Arena at State Fair Park, on Aug. 30, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman
Jim Norick Arena at State Fair Park, on Aug. 30, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

High school basketball state tournaments and wrestling state meets will remain at State Fair Park, but a new tradition could be formed in the next five years.

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association signed a five-year agreement to keep the tournaments at the fairgrounds through 2024, it was announced Monday morning.

State Fair Arena, known as The Big House, remains the host of the tournaments, unless a new arena is built by the end of the contract.

“If they could get that done, it would make it nice,” OSSAA executive director David Jackson told The Oklahoman. “As long as we can still come to terms that we’ve had in the past, we’re OK with the old one. But like everything else you’d like to see some cosmetic improvements if possible.

“A new arena would be great. We’re all in favor of them getting a new one.”

The Big House has hosted OSSAA state tournaments for 54 seasons. The latest five-year agreement was completed following last month’s Class 4A-2A basketball state tournaments. The new contract has already been approved by the OSSAA Board of Directors.

But this deal is different than the usual extension. It comes with a heavy push for a proposed $95 million arena to be built as part of the expected MAPS4 program.

“Unfortunately, the building is on its last legs,” Oklahoma State Fair, Inc. president & CEO Tim O’Toole said in a release. “The average life cycle of a public sports arena is 30 to 40 years. The Jim Norick Arena is 54 years old and needs to be retired. With voter support, we can serve future generations of athletes and provide an economic boost for Oklahoma City.”

Jackson said that whether a new arena is built or not would not sway the OSSAA’s stance on playing the tournaments at The Big House.

“It’s not a deal-breaker by any means,” Jackson said. “We would enjoy being in a new facility, as anyone would.”

Class 6A and Class 5A basketball state tournaments will remain in Tulsa at Oral Roberts University’s Mabee Center through at least 2021, completing a three-year contract. Jackson said the OSSAA will accept bids for those tournaments then.

Related Photos
TheJim Norick Arena at State Fair Park, on Aug. 30, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

TheJim Norick Arena at State Fair Park, on Aug. 30, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-e696b750f6864a8184aed79536cfbd36.jpg" alt="Photo - TheJim Norick Arena at State Fair Park, on Aug. 30, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman " title="TheJim Norick Arena at State Fair Park, on Aug. 30, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman "><figcaption>TheJim Norick Arena at State Fair Park, on Aug. 30, 2018. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman </figcaption></figure>
Jacob Unruh

Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the... Read more ›

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