What It Means to be World Class

Posted in: Club Newsletter, Featured, Reflections Articles

– Mike Knopp

KNOPP_MIKEIt was nearly 15 years ago when I nervously described to Club 29 what a modest boathouse could do for our river – a river that, in fact, had yet to emerge from its decades-long existence as weed-infested drainage ditch. How times have changed. Weeds have been replaced with thousands of rowers and kayakers, and the modest boathouse concept that was an early dream to activate the river was replaced with an iconic collection of some of the finest boathouse facilities of their kind in the world.

From mowing to rowing and from weeds to waves, Oklahoma City’s version of an active riverfront defies common logic and transforms pre-conceived perceptions through surprise. Only on our river can you watch the oldest intercollegiate sport in action under the lights. Only on our river can you see the Olympic rings and Team USA along with people from eight to 80 discovering a new world of opportunity awaiting them through boats, paddles, and oars. Only on our river can you enter a boathouse and train at 12,000 feet, enjoy a jazz concert, or view works of art. Only on our river can you climb, zip, slide, and jump across some of the most innovative adventure attractions on the planet. Only on our river will you soon be able to stand in one place and watch rowing before turning your head to view whitewater rafting – and then taking a short walk into downtown. And, only on our river do so many people not only watch, but participate in river sport activities that are making an intergenerational impact upon our health and wellness and quality of life, while becoming a model for other communities’ efforts to reinvent urban waterfronts.

This is what it means to be world class. Being world class did not happen only through iconic buildings and attractions. It happened through a state of mind. What seemed like a far-fetched plan 15 years ago was embraced by this club and this community, despite the fact the concepts were foreign and implementation unconventional. This world class state of mind is responsible for the ongoing, historic success or our MAPS program, the envy of so many cities across America, and the dramatic and ever-growing renaissance of our urban core.

In less than 8 months the water will turn on in the most advanced whitewater rapids facility in the world. The $45 million RIVERSPORT Rapids will underscore what it means to have a world class state of mind, appropriately positioned at the Crossroads of America and reminding visitors to expect the unexpected from Oklahoma City. I suggest that it is it is even more appropriate that nestled in the heart of this world class facility will be a destination named “Rotary Point.” Based upon our unique OKC formula for riverfront activation, it is now time for Club 29 members to plan to experience Rotary Point from both land and water!



]RIVERSPORT Rapids will be powered by a total of six pumps that weigh over 12,000 lbs each

Each pump circulates 82,000 gallons per minute – a total of 492,000 gallons per minute. With these pumps, it would take 80 seconds to fill an Olympic size swimming pool

The freestyle channel will be the highest volume pumped whitewater channel in the world

Average Trip Length

The trip down the recreational channel will be 15-20 minutes including the conveyor ride to the top of the run

The competition channel will be a bit faster at 10-15 minutes


Roughly 2,000 people will be able to raft in a single day making OKC one of the biggest rafting facilities in the world

RIVERSPORT Rapids will provide rafting and kayaking for all levels of users, from novice to Olympic Champion


The conveyor that pulls your raft to the top of the run is approximately 170’ long with a 21′ elevation change

It is capable of moving nine fully-loaded rafts or 13,500 lbs at one time

Rotary Point

The coolest place to enjoy live music in Oklahoma City – from a tube floating in the bottom pool of RIVERSPORT Rapids in front of the Rotary Point stage!

Rotary Point will also be the place where dreams come true, with Olympic Team spots awarded and world cup medals presented.

6 Comments for : What It Means to be World Class
    • Mike O'Neal
    • August 20, 2015

    And we owe this world class dream become a reality to Mike Knopp and Old Man River! Thank you for your vision, your leadership, and your persistence.

  1. Mike, thank you for your vision and perseverance! You are a wise man!

    • patrick Rooney
    • August 20, 2015

    Thanks Mike. a nice article. Pat

  2. Mike, our community is fortunate to have this amazing game-changing facility and your visionary leadership. ESCCO is proud to have supplied consultants for multiple projects at the riverfront and will continue to be ready to partner when needed.

  3. Mike, yours is a well-written description of what we all feel but can’t articulate as well. An example of just how much this community embraces our riverfront was seen at the Saturday night medical fund raiser where you and I saw the bidding for a party at the Devon Boathouse yield a selling price of many thousands of dollars and roughly five times as much as a one week stay in any of the Colorado ski condos. This tells you we love our riverfront. Mike, you possess not only the vision, but the skill to implement an increasingly complex series of projects. Add to that you are just a super guy.

    • Larry Bledsoe
    • August 24, 2015

    What a demonstration of the ‘WOW! factor.’ Congratulations and thank you to all responsible for raising the Oklahoma City bar. Again.
    Larry Bledsoe

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