RIVERSPORT Rapids, Oklahoma City’s new $45.2 million whitewater rafting and kayaking center, will hold a grand opening celebration May 7-8, 2016. The whitewater center was built in the city’s Boathouse District as part of MAPS 3, a one-cent sales tax initiative to fund projects that enhance the quality of life for metro area residents.
“You will never find a better weekend to experience all that the Boathouse District has to offer,” said Mike Knopp, the executive director of the OKC Boathouse Foundation. “You’ll get a taste of what the Olympics in Rio are all about, see the nation’s top whitewater slalom athletes in action, watch rowing on the Oklahoma River and enjoy live music, great food and, of course, fireworks.”
The OKC Boathouse Foundation will operate the new whitewater center and will offer recreational rafting, kayaking and tubing along with adventure activities, rafting and kayaking lessons, leagues and camps. The adventures and whitewater activities are open to the public. Day and season passes are available.
The grand opening event will feature Team USA’s Road to Rio Tour presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance. The interactive tour will give fans a chance to experience the spirit of the Olympic Games, try their hand at some of the sports and meet Team USA athletes. Oklahoma City is one of only six stops on Team USA’s nation-wide tour. On Saturday evening, a live concert will be staged in the whitewater center followed by fireworks.
The weekend celebration will also include US Olympic Trials – Canoe/Kayak Slalom on the new whitewater course. Athletes from across the U.S. will converge on the venue to vie for a chance to compete at the Rio Games.
“We’ll be putting rafters on the whitewater course during all of this,” Knopp said. “We want to let as many people as possible get on the water during this opening weekend. This is OKC’s whitewater center and we want everyone to experience it."
The grand opening celebration will also include a rowing regatta on the adjacent Oklahoma River. More than 1,500 youth rowers will compete in the USRowing Central District Youth Championships, a qualifier for the national championships later in the year.
Throughout the weekend food will be available from RIVERSPORT Rapids’ new restaurants as well a some of OKC’s best food trucks. Live musical performances will be held throughout the weekend on the Road to Rio Tour presented by Liberty Mutual Insurance stage.
The festival is free; parking is $10. RIVERSPORT Rapids rafting and adventure passes will be available online at riversportokc.org and at the festival. Rafting passes are $49 per day and include RIVERSPORT Adventure activities.
About RIVERSPORT Rapids: RIVERSPORT Rapids is one of only three man-made whitewater venues in the nation. Six pumps recirculate treated water through two channels to create class II-IV rapids. Flow can be adjusted to offer various levels of rafting and kayaking experiences.
“The design of this venue is not a pure whitewater one,” said Jeffrey Gustin, senior program manager at S2O Design and Engineering, the design firm behind RIVERSPORT Rapids. “We designed a venue that provides Olympic standard whitewater but also truly provides a place for everyone to enjoy, beginner to expert.”
The recreational channel will make rafting accessible to just about everyone. Trained raft guides will brief rafters on safety and technique, and will steer each raft trip down the channel. The competitive channel offers high-octane Class IV rapids on the Olympic-style course and will challenge elite athletes from around the world for both training and competition.
For more information about RIVERSPORT Rapids, visit http://boathousedistrict.org/whitewater/.