Oklahoma City, OK
The Oklahoma River is one of the “newest” rivers in the country and is fast becoming known as one of the world’s best urban venues for rowing and canoe/kayak. Located in the center of the nation at the intersection of I35 and I40, the Oklahoma River is adjacent to downtown Oklahoma City and within walking distance of the Bricktown entertainment district. It offers both a 2000m sprint course and two 4000m courses, all sheltered by raised banks.
The seven-mile stretch of river was originally known as the North Canadian River and for years, was a dry riverbed with water averted to avoid flooding nearby downtown Oklahoma City. A $53 million project completed in 2004 rejuvenated the river, creating the seven-mile, dam controlled body of water now known as the Oklahoma River.
Today, the area along the Oklahoma River is known as Boathouse District and is the center of activity for rowing in Oklahoma City. OAR merged its resources with the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation and in the spring of 2010, in anticipation of the continued growth of the rowing community, Oklahoma City Riversport was established as the all-encompassing brand of activities at the Oklahoma River – from rowing, kayaking, dragon boating, cycling, and running, plus fitness workouts and more for the whole community. Activity is centered at the iconic Chesapeake Boathouse, but you’ll also find rowers at Lake Overholser, enjoying the meandering North Canadian as it winds though the Stinchcomb nature preserve.
The Devon Boathouse is home to the Oklahoma City University rowing team and the Oklahoma City High Performance Training Center. This $10 million, 33,000 square foot facility offers an indoor rowing tank for sculling and sweep, an endless swimming pool, a wide variety of cross-training machines, a high-altitude chamber for both living and training and state-of-the-art strength and conditioning equipment.
The CHK|Central Boathouse serves as home to the University of Central Oklahoma’s women’s rowing team. It also includes a live music venue and an art gallery, establishing it as a unique presence “where art meets the river” in the growing Boathouse District at the Oklahoma River.
The Chesapeake Finish Line Tower is a four-story, 70-foot structure meeting FISA international racing standards. The University of Oklahoma also has boathouse construction plans in the final stages.
In June 2013, the Oklahoma River became the first water race course in the world with permanent stadium lighting. A project of MAPS 3, the Boathouse District can now accommodate night racing on the river.
RIVERSPORT Rapids, a state-of-the-art whitewater rafting & kayaking center, one of only four in the world, opened in April 2016. It was designed by the same team that developed the U.K.’s Lee Valley White Water Centre for the 2012 London Olympics and is similar to North Carolina’s U.S. National Whitewater Center. Structures located within the center include the Aubrey K. McClendon Whitewater Center, raft storage, the Kayak Building, and Rotary Point and iconic centerpiece that functions as an event stage.
Geared for both family fun and elite athlete training, the 11-acre RIVERSPORT Rapids whitewater center was completed as part of MAPS 3, the one-cent sales tax initiative dedicated to metro area projects.
Recirculating channels pumping treated water create class II-IV rapids and offer a range of experiences for whitewater rafting, tubing, kayaking and canoeing. The lower flow channel offers great family rafting and tubing experiences – no previous experience necessary. High-octane Class IV rapids on the Olympic style course will challenge elite athletes from around the world for both training and competition.
The Oklahoma River development received a significant boost in 2009 when the citizens of Oklahoma City voted in favor of a one-cent sales tax that will provide $777 million in new development city-wide, with $60 million earmarked for the Oklahoma River.
Projects to be completed along the river include the Oklahoma River Stadium, with grandstands, floating stage, permanent lighting and additional race infrastructure.