Multimillion dollar plans to bring rafting, expo center to OKC approved

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Building Oklahoma City into a tourist destination is the goal of two multimillion dollar projects that got the green light this week.

On Tuesday, city leaders approved final plans for two MAPS 3 projects, including a whitewater rafting area along the Oklahoma River and a new expo center at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds.

The new expo center won't be cheap.

It'll cost $44 million and will replace the Travel and Transportation building.

At nearly 300,000 square feet, the expo center will be four times larger than any other building on the fairgrounds and should keep larger trade shows from bypassing Oklahoma.

"It allows us to have a large area where one show can be under one roof," said Tim O'Toole, with the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds.

Getting more families to enjoy the Oklahoma River is the driving force behind a new whitewater complex in the Boathouse District.

"I think it's fantastic," said Chrystie Sceili. "It's a great place to take family and something else to do outside."

"We're trying to create an urban adventure environment at the river," said Mike Knopp, with the Boathouse

A vacant home is the last building standing where the whitewater complex will be built.

At a cost of $23 million, the whitewater facility will be a one-of-a-kind attraction for the state.

"This is going to be unlike anything anywhere in the country," said Knopp. "It's kinda like creating our own outdoor culture here. You can go spend a whole weekend at the river doing something unique."

The projected cost for both projects came in at or below budget.

The goal is to finish construction on the whitewater complex by the end of next year.

Work on the expo center may run into 2016.

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