OKC Thunder may benefit from MAPS 4 via upgrades to Chesapeake and practice facility

OKC Thunder, A general view of Chesapeake arena (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder, A general view of Chesapeake arena (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

City Council will vote this week on whether MAPS 4 will provide the revenue to upgrade Chesapeake Energy Arena and the OKC Thunder practice facility.

Reportedly the OKC Thunder are considering a facelift if you will of Chesapeake Energy Arena. This is tied to the efforts in OKC of the Metropolitan Area Projects program (referred to as MAPS).

For those who aren’t from the area or unfamiliar, this is an ongoing project which has built up the city over the course of the past two decades.

This project was the original brainchild of Ron Norick, the Mayor of Oklahoma City in the 1990s. At the time OKC lost out on a bid for the United Airlines new maintenance facility which went to Indianapolis instead. Norick wanted to create a program to make Oklahoma City more appealing to tourists and build up the infrastructure of the city with more businesses and subsequently jobs for residents.

What made this program unique was how the funds were raised. Consisting of copious capital projects planned for in groups, the key was utilizing a temporary sales tax to collect the funds required prior to construction. This meant the city could be built up without incurring long-lasting debt and since it was managed by staff (also paid for via the tax) and supervised by a volunteer citizens oversight committee it meant it progressed regardless of changes to governing officials.

The long term goal was to create an infrastructure of businesses appealing to different demographics and locate them all in a centralized location.  The initial project was so successful two subsequent MAPS program have since been successfully implemented: MAPS for Kids and MAPS 3.

Now, Chesapeake may benefit from the next in the series — MAPS 4 which will also look at transportation system improvements. As for the Peake, improvements include general maintenance and the practice facility is also in need of upgrades as per Matt Patterson of NonDoc.com.

"Some of the other items would include a new scoreboard, wider concourses, a food court and upgraded entrances. The practice facility is also in need of upgraded HVAC systems, Thompson said.The arena’s economic impact adds up to about $90 million in direct spending, according to figures provided by the city."

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These improvements like everything in the MAPS program will need to be approved. At a recent seven hour meeting, some voiced concern over why a team which Forbes listed as being worth $1.5 billion required local assistance for up to $130 million worth of upgrades.

And the point is worth making while teams erect massive arenas with other revenue streams attached to them the Thunder again operate within the limitations of a small market.

To wit, Kevin Arnowitz excellent ESPN article highlights how big markets and teams erecting new arenas are expanding their facilities to be more than a sports arena.

Golden State will move into the Chase Center this fall and the facility may as Arnowitz puts it be more of a real estate venture than an arena.

Next. How Thunder backcourt duo Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander can thrive together. dark

The decision on the Chesapeake Energy Arena and practice facility upgrades were expected to be made this week by the city council.