Sweeping gracefully away from Oklahoma City Boulevard, the first phase of Scissortail Park marks a historical turning point for downtown’s southwest side.

Scissortail’s 40-acre Upper Park, opened Sept. 27, adjoins the Skydance Bridge over Interstate 40 and connects to the 30-acre Lower Park, which, upon completion, will give OKC its largest park. The Upper Park offers a covered stage, a grand lawn, a 3.5-acre lake, a boathouse, covered event pavilions, picnic spaces, a playground and a tree-lined promenade.

“It’s something for everyone,” says Maureen Heffernan, the park’s executive director. “There’s huge interest in it, combined with the Myriad Botanical Gardens. We planted almost 1,000 trees in the Upper Park and tens of thousands of flowers and shrubs and lots of native grasses. It’s a wonderful green space.”

The Upper Park’s unveiling “had over $1.5 million in sponsorships,” Heffernan says. “Everyone was so positive. We had a whole mix of people and backgrounds and walks of life. The park was intended for that – to bring everyone together. The main vision of the park was to improve the quality of life in Oklahoma City.”

The three-day party kicked off with the Grammy Award-winning rock band Kings of Leon, which drew more than 30,000 people.

“We had thousands of people each day after that,” Heffernan says.

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt says the park “is the kind of amenity we used to think only other cities had. Scissortail Park lays a foundation for a downtown we probably won’t recognize 25 years from now.

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“We built a concert venue in the park unlike anything we’ve ever had, and we wanted to kick the tires on day one. A lot of us rallied over the past year to put this Kings of Leon concert together, and though it was highly anticipated, it exceeded all expectations. It was the largest crowd to ever see a concert in Oklahoma City. It was a magical night and one of the most memorable evenings in Oklahoma City history.”

Scissortail’s hours are from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.; the Children’s Playground is open daily from dawn to dusk. A café should open in the spring. Heffernan says the park will offer paddle boats, an outdoor roller rink, holiday events and other programs.

“Across from the park, a huge convention center opens in late 2020,” Heffernan says. “The park will be a selling point to bring more people to the convention center. A large hotel is being built nearby, [along with] new housing. Retail is already opening and developers will likely be opening more.”

The Lower Park, set to open in 2021, “will have soccer fields, basketball, pickleball and futsal,” says Heffernan, adding that this section will be “a little more natural, not as many buildings, more of a woodland feeling.”

It will have an outdoor performance venue near the Oklahoma River, along with concessions and walking trails.