Civic home run: The Brick launched OKC's renaissance 19 years ago

Published: Thursday, February 23, 2017 By: Berry Tramel

I walked through Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark on Tuesday. It's February. The ballplayers won't be here for six weeks. Still a long way from the games that bring the stadium to life.

But the grass was immaculately green. The architecture remains pristine. The sights create the sounds in the imagination. And the feeling Tuesday was the same feeling of 19 years ago, when the Brick opened not just as a ballyard but as a monument to civic possibility.

And that feeling was, wow.

Before the Thunder, before Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant and the NBA Finals, before hotels on virtually every corner and new downtown apartments rising by the month, before the Boathouse District, before the canal and all the restaurants and the art museum and the renovated Civic Center, before Devon Tower, Oklahoma City built a baseball park in Bricktown.

And hasn't been the same since.

“We've been running on positive energy since that day,” said Mick Cornett, then a KOCO-5 sportscaster and now Oklahoma City's longest-serving mayor.

On April 6, the Dodgers open their Pacific Coast League schedule — the 20th baseball season for the Brick. Can you believe it?

Can you believe it was the emotion the first time most of us saw the Bricktown Ballpark.

“When the ballpark opened, there was a sense of pride in Oklahoma City that I had never seen exist before,” Cornett said. “We kept looking around. Had a feel of a Major League stadium. Had a feel that you must be in some other city. It was just hard to imagine that this was really ours. It really belonged to Oklahoma City. That set the stage for the other MAPS projects.”

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