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The Entertainment Engine

Economists estimate Oklahoma’s pre-pandemic entertainment industry brought in almost $950 million in economic impact yearly, supporting more than 8,500 jobs and millions in tax revenue.

Growing up in the Oklahoma City area, I often still find myself surprised by how far we’ve come. I remember when Bricktown wasn’t even a thing; we didn’t go downtown for entertainment, and we definitely couldn’t imagine having an NBA franchise in our city.

But look where we are now because of the bold individuals, organizations and industries that led the way through these difficult times. Thanks to these leaders, entertainment has become a driving force for good in the 405.

Entertainment fulfills a basic human need. It can be viewed as just a means of keeping an audience’s attention, but it’s so much more than that. Entertainment contributes to our happiness and well-being. It can affect our self-esteem, mental health and, of course, provide jobs and create a substantial economic impact. 

Entertainment in the 405

One of the biggest advantages we have as a city is access to entertainment. While cities of all sizes need various forms of entertainment to bring people together, express, celebrate and compete, cities have the unique ability to provide entertainment options at entirely different levels – Thunder basketball being a perfect example.

According to the city, each sold out Thunder game provides a $1.6 million economic impact on OKC. Plus, think about all the other concerts and events that take place in the Paycom Arena and what it represents for our city.

An example that may or may not be surprising to you is the State Fair. In just 10 days, the fair creates an enormous impact on our community. The fair generates millions in local economic impact each year. Last year, even while COVID concerns still lingered, experts estimated the fair’s impact at $100 million, according to Oklahoma State Fair officials.

Entertainment in the state

The entertainment industry generates significant economic impacts in Oklahoma with a total economic impact of $948 million in 2019, according to research by Oxford Economics. This economic impact supported 8,521 total jobs and generated $40 million in total state and local tax revenues.

While these numbers suddenly dropped in 2020 due to the pandemic, it’s important that the entertainment industry not only return to pre-pandemic numbers, but that it grows past them and thrives. The health of our city relies on entertainment.

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