Greater Tulsa Reporter
GROWING PAINS: Southern Nazarene University stands as a mainstay in The Shoppes at Regal Plaza surrounding SpiritBank Event Center. Things look bright for this development with new management and the return of the Tulsa 66ers.
BETH TURNER for GTR Newspapers
Taken over, sold, and repurchased, Bixby’s SpiritBank Event Center in Regal Plaza continues to move forward despite roadblocks on its path to success. It began with great expectations in 2008. Remy Companies launched this impressive facility, financed by SpiritBank. Retail space, nearby hotels, restaurants and bars being built and Tulsa’s new basketball development league, Tulsa 66ers announced the center as their home court. However, the tide soon turned and Remy Companies found itself in foreclosure.
After just one season, the Tulsa 66ers left to play at the Tulsa Convention Center. SpiritBank took over both the center and the surrounding retail space in 2010.
A few months later, SpiritBank sold the event center to MacPot LLC, owned by Phil Thompson of Edmond. He had big plans, but had to sell the property back in 2011 for his purchase price after being unable to get the space back on its feet.
When asked why they repurchased the property, SpiritBank Marketing Executive Vice President Joyce Madewell says, “ From our perspective, we had a commitment to the project, to Bixby and the South Tulsa areas, which we kept by improving and stabilizing the property over the last two years while looking for suitable buyers that could see the project to fruition.”
Several businesses are Regal Plaza mainstays and continue to weather these behind-the-scenes storms including Southern Nazarene University, Scottrade, Genghis Grill, Bella Vita Spa and Salon, Which Wich, Rooster’s Bar, Savastano’s Pizzeria, Chick-fil-A, Applebees, Popeyes Chicken, It’s Greek to Me and South of the Border. According to SpiritBank officials, new businesses are expected to open soon.
SpiritBank moves forward with ownership and hiring seasoned management professionals. “We repurchased the property in 2011 with a need for additional office space and with a commitment to bring the project to its fullest value,” says Madewell. “Our primary law firm has since moved into the space as well as our mortgage operation. We’ve hired Global Spectrum, a national company, to bring great events to the center, and we retain Porthaven Partners to lease retail and office space in the plaza.”
Global Spectrum is a subsidiary of Comcast Spectator specializing in venue management around the world. Some of their clients include Autozone Park in Memphis, LIVESTRONG Sporting Park in Kansas City, Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, UAE, The Mountain Winery in California, Old Falls Street in Niagara Falls, N.Y., Singapore Sports Club in Singapore, and the James Brown Arena in Augusta, Ga., to name a few.
Global Spectrum’s Senior Vice President Frank Russo, Jr. says that he is experienced in taking struggling event centers and not only getting them on their feet but turning them into a premiere place to be. Russo says he’s confident in the new management now in place at SBEC. “We wanted Patrick McGrew to come in and help this space. He turned around a similar event center in Florida, and we know he can do the job for Bixby.”
These must be all the right moves because the Tulsa 66ers recently announced their plans to move back to the suburbs.
“The Tulsa 66ers left the SBEC due to differences with the Remy Companies,” says Madewell. “With new ownership and revitalized plans, they chose to return. As a development league affiliate of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, and with the Thunder’s great rise in the NBA, we’re very excited about the return of the Tulsa 66ers and know that their many loyal fans will enjoy quality basketball at the SBEC.