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The historic Rose Bowl along Route 66 has a new tenant. It's now the home of the Rose Bowl Tulsa Training Center. This non-profit organization provides space for programs that reach out to disadvantaged and at-risk students through sports and tutoring. Rex Blankenship, the Vision Training Center President, says his family grew up knowing how important sports, education, and faith are in life. He also says research shows, students involved in these type of varsity sports are 75 percent more likely to graduate.
"We introduce them to new sports besides basketball or soccer and to help them to see that they could maybe excel in one of those areas," says Rex Blankenship.
The program already reaches two hundred kids each week but with the new basketball court and the place to grow they are expecting more.
"We are hoping to just automatically move to perhaps five hundred a week. We are certainly staffed so that we can try and do that," says Blankenship.
Blankenship says they want all parents to trust them and allow them to build relationships with their children because they aren't here to judge anyone.
”It does not matter who they are, what they look like, where they come from, or what they have done or not done. We will welcome and love them no matter what.”
Everything in the program is free, they just want to help build up the area.
"We want to do our part bigger and better than the way we have been doing it. We want to take our love to a higher level so it will make a difference in the city. The kids need help. They need hope. This area of the city needs economic development," says Blankenship
If you would like to help the Rose Bowl Tulsa Training Center, you can click on the link to their websites: savetherosebowl.com or rosebowltulsa.com and pick where your donations will go.
Located at 7419 East 11th Street along the Route 66 corridor in Tulsa, this unique building was constructed by a prominent Tulsa doctor, who commissioned Tulsa architect William Henry Ryan, to design the structure. The unique structure with its 2 ½ symmetrical concrete domes, bubble gum pink color, and soaring windows, quickly became a hotspot when it opened in 1962 as the Rose Bowl Lanes. Boasting audience seating, a game room, food counter and other traditional elements of the 10-pin heyday, it not only drew many locals but also became known for its regional bowling tournaments, drawing people from all over the country.
For 45 years, the building entertained bowling enthusiasts along Route 66, changing ownership several times throughout the years until it was purchased by bowling giant AMF. In 2005, the bowling center closed its doors forever, quickly becoming a target of vandalism and fires.
One Hope Vision (Rose Bowl Vision) is not a new program. We are an Oklahoma non-profit agency and tax-exempt under section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. We have purchased the Rose Bowl with plans to restore the exterior of this unique and historical architectural icon on Route 66 to its original design while renovating its interior to provide space for sports clinics, educational, and mentoring programs that offer hope and help for at-risk youth to stay in school. One Hope Vision supervised a successful program for 22 years in Shreveport, Louisiana, called Vision SOG working with at-risk youth while also serving as the umbrella organization for 14 years for our partner program, One Hope in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Joe, Bill, and Rex Blankenship started One Hope Vision 23 years ago and have since developed a successful model to help at-risk youth stay and succeed in school. Rooted in knowing the value of education, the benefit of athletics, and the ultimate worth of sharing the love of God, One Hope seeks to share these same principles with area youth. We incorporate mentor training for college-aged students with sports and educational opportunities for youth, especially those in need of help and hope.
Over the last fourteen years One Hope has seen a powerful impact made on thousands of lives through free sports clinics, tutoring, and mentoring programs. The difference is made visible in the student’s school activity and the reports of grateful families who feel their students are loved, valued, and encouraged, and receive the educational support they need outside of school. While our programs have grown in number and success, our space has not!
The solution? The Rose Bowl! Built in 1961, it stands as an historical and architectural Route 66 landmark on 11th Street in East Tulsa. Originally designed to be a world-class bowling alley, its unique structure of two and one-half concrete domes, 34,000 square feet of space with 35 ft. high ceilings, and its bubble-gum pink color quickly still stands as a local landmark. After its closure, it was abandoned and left to vandalism until a previous purchaser sought to restore its exterior. The work caught our attention and aware of our need of a long-term plan for expansion, we purchased the building four years ago. Much change has taken place over the last few years. Some of the original bowling lanes now serve as a platform stage overlooking a collegiate sized basketball court. There is sports turf for flag football and soccer plus a restored snack bar. With the proximity to McClure Park, One Hope can oversee 400 plus youth and 100 mentors in each of the weeklong sports clinics.
The building and its location have already been a benefit to our programs at One Hope. We have even been able to help other youth-oriented organizations by making the facility available for such programs. Kids in these communities need help and hope; the community itself needs economic development. With these things in mind we believe saving the Rose Bowl and developing this building to better serve the community make it beyond a worthwhile venture.
Raising up hundreds of leaders and giving hope to thousands of youth for over 20 years.
Rex recently served four years as the Director of Player Development and Life Skills Coach for the Tulsa University football team. He has written several spiritual conditioning books for high school and college student/athletes. Additional information and sample books are available at sidebyside4ever.com. He is the brother of Bill Blankenship, former championship Head Football Coach at Tulsa University and Tulsa Union High School and Joe Blankenship, Pastor of Springs of Grace Bible Church in Tulsa and Executive Director of One Hope Tulsa.
Previously, Rex was the Senior Pastor at Springs of Grace Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, following pastorates in Guymon and Spiro, Oklahoma, and youth ministry in Jenks and Sand Springs. He has been a popular speaker for leadership development, youth camps, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Rex worked as Senate Aide on the staff of the late Honorable U.S. Senator Dewey F. Bartlett, Sr. and attended the University of Tulsa Law School. He was the starting Quarterback at Harvard University finishing with a degree in Engineering and Applied Physics following his graduation from Spiro High School in eastern Oklahoma.
Rex has been married for 37 years to Vicki Hutchens, a graduate of Tulsa East Central and Rose State University. Daughter, Kala, worked as academic tutor for the Oklahoma State athletic program until moving to Colorado Springs with her husband, Scott, son, Cooper, and daughters, Ireland and Channing. Son, Kyle, played basketball and was team captain for the Tulsa Hurricane, was assistant men’s basketball coach at Rogers State University in Claremore and is now the Head Basketball Coach at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. Son, Derek, played baseball at Baylor University before starting his career in the music industry as a songwriter/producer. He is currently in Los Angeles working with Universal Studios.