FireLake Arena is making its mark as “the” event center to choose in the Greater Shawnee area. Boasting more than 52,000 square feet of space, and seating up to 5,000, the spacious facility can host events of all kinds. As host of the Inter-Tribal Emergency Management Coalition Summit in 2015, the Arena has worked to build a strong reputation as a valuable partner in the community.
As the success of the Arena grew, it was apparent that they were in need of a lending partner to further its mission and expand its business.
“The biggest challenge a place like this faces is brand recognition; getting people to know it is here,” said FireLake Arena event manager and talent buyer Jason Fowler. “We’ll have shows and talk to people as they’re leaving and we always hear, ‘That was great! We didn’t know you all were here.’”
As the only Native CDFI approved and awarded capital through the U.S. Treasury Department’s CDFI Bond Guarantee Program, the Citizen Potawatomi Community Development Corporation (CPCDC) was there to lend a hand. As part of the first multi-party Bond Guarantee Issuance, coupled with a HEARTH Act leasehold mortgage of the FireLake Arena, CPCDC had the capacity to fund an $8.5 million-dollar tribal project for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. These funds allowed for refinancing, consolidation, and cashing out of previously paid out-of- pocket capital improvements. These Bond funds issued through CPCDC freed the FireLake Arena to reach new business heights, expand profit margins, and increase event bookings to see thousands of visitors walk through its doors.
Since working with CPCDC, the Arena has gone on to host concerts with bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd. the Randy Rogers Band, and more. In addition. the Arena has expanded their capacity to host community events, including sports camps for local youth, tournaments, and expos. Not to mention you can get a prime seat for school graduation ceremonies. The summer of 2017 brought an exciting new venture to the Arena, the FireLake FireFlight Balloon Fest, the largest festival of its kind in the state, and drawing new crowds to tribal grounds. It was the event of the summer and made history for Shawnee, Oklahoma, and promises to be an annual opportunity to invite new faces into the community to experience local artisans and food vendors.