The OKC Thunder need a new arena. The Paycom Center opened on June 8th, 2002, with a construction cost of 89.2 million dollars and a seating capacity of 18,203. The idea behind the downtown arena in Oklahoma City was to lure in an NHL team eventually. The Hockey world never descended upon Bricktown, but the New Orleans Hornets were forced to relocate to OKC’s vacant arena due to Hurricane Katrina. The City’s support of the Hornets opened eyes around the NBA.
Eventually, this small market was able to claim a team of its own when the Seattle Supersonics sold their franchise to an Oklahoma-based ownership group led by Clay Bennett. The Sonics relocated to Oklahoma City, rebranding to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2008.
The OKC Thunder need a new arena, and Mayor David Holt’s plan for the city should make fans, and taxpayers, rejoice.
On July 20th, Oklahoma City’s Mayor, David Holt, held his annual State of the City address. It was a year ago at this time that Holt soft launched the new arena idea. This time around, Holt came with a more concrete plan for taxpayers to wrap their heads around.
Mayor Holt eventually got around to discussing the plan for this new arena. The OKC Thunder will be paying for a large chunk of the new stadium, while tax rates will not increase. However, it will extend the life of the already-in-place MAPS project, which has helped fund many projects to grow the city.
With the OKC Thunder on board to offer up a “significant financial contribution” for little-to-no additional financial burden on the taxpayers, this sounds like a proposal that should keep the Thunder in Oklahoma City for the foreseeable future.
The Thunder fanbase, and OKC citizens, should be excited about this revelation because the OKC Thunder held all the leverage in these negotiations. As a small market, we need the NBA more than they need us. Oftentimes, that leads ownership groups to be unwilling to pony up significant financial help for their arenas. The fact that the OKC Thunder group is genuinely willing to help the city and work together to keep the franchise here goes a long way.
With the impending vote at the end of 2023, possible stadium renderings should not be far behind. This is an exciting day for Oklahoma City!