OKC Leaders Break Ground on MAPS 3 Whitewater Rafting, Kayak Center | Sports Destination Management

OKC Leaders Break Ground on MAPS 3 Whitewater Rafting, Kayak Center

Oct 28, 2014

Oklahoma City leaders broke ground on an 11-acre whitewater rafting and kayaking center that will continue the development of the Oklahoma River into a recreation landmark for residents and visitors.

The $45.6 million project, which is named “Riversport Rapids, OKC Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking Center, is being constructed debt free as a part of MAPS 3.

Geared for both family fun and elite athlete training, Riversport Rapids will offer whitewater rapid courses, a pro shop, a restaurant and public viewing areas. It is being built near the SandRidge Sky Trail and Slide in the Boathouse District along the Oklahoma River, 725 S Lincoln Boulevard.

“Riversport Rapids will be a world class attraction,” Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said. “Not only will the center be a playground for people of all ages and skill levels, but it will also double as a training center for Olympic hopefuls. This attraction will continue our efforts to create a city where people want to live and encourage residents to adopt an active outdoor lifestyle.”

The park will feature two channels, offering rafting and kayaking for beginners and experts. A third channel for freestyle boats will run in front of the restaurant. Treated water will circulate through concrete channels, over movable rock-like structures to create a whitewater rapid environment. The more structures in place and the faster the water flow, the more difficult the course will be. A conveyor belt will deliver the kayaks and rafts back to the top of the course after each run.

The Riversport Rapids is anticipated to operate from March through October. Children as young as eight years old can participate. Lessons, camps and adaptive programs offered at the center will help ensure everyone has the chance to participate. The Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation will manage the facility once it is open.

“The whitewater center will set Oklahoma City apart from any city in the nation,” said Mike Knopp, executive director of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation. “To have our whitewater center in the heart of the community and within walking distance of Bricktown makes it uniquely accessible. We will have more urban adventure activities than any other major American city.”

The rapids will have options that are fun for people who are new to the sport of rafting, but will also have a more advanced run for experienced kayakers and rafters.

“Even if you don’t want to get on the water, you can enjoy the free viewing area and we plan to have live music events throughout the year,” Knopp added.

The center is expected to be open in spring 2016 and is among the sites being considered for hosting the Olympic canoe and kayak slalom trials for the games in Rio de Janeiro.

Other MAPS 3 Oklahoma River Improvements include permanent lighting for the first 500 meters of the racecourse, an Olympic style starting system with docks, a judging platform, LED lighting, cameras, irrigation, racecourse lane marking improvements, cable crossover markers and more. The total budget for the MAPS 3 Oklahoma River improvements is $57.1 million.

The MAPS 3 Oklahoma River Improvements Subcommittee provides guidance to the project and is made up of eleven mayor-appointed citizens: Dee Morales, Chris Reen, Michael Dover, Julianna Deligans, Mike Knopp, Brian Dougherty, Martha Burger, Joe Clytus, Alan Marcum, Gena Timberman and Ron Norick.

About MAPS 3: MAPS 3 is a $777 million construction program designed to improve the quality of life in Oklahoma City.  It is funded by a one-cent sales tax initiative that began in April 2010 and ends in December 2017. MAPS 3 funds eight projects: Downtown Convention Center, Downtown Public Park, Modern Streetcar/Transit, Oklahoma River Improvements, Oklahoma State Fairgrounds Improvements, Senior Health and Wellness Centers, Trails and Sidewalks.

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