Thunder unveil plans for new $900M+ arena for 2029-30 season


On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Thunder revealed plans to build a new arena in time for the 2029-30 season, if not sooner, with the project cost estimating to be at least $900 million.

The plan for the new arena is contingent on a Dec. 12 vote by OKC residents to pass a temporary one-cent sales tax, which is an extension of the MAPS 4 tax, per Joe Mussatto.

At least $70 million will come from MAPS 4 for the new arena. The goal is to keep the Thunder in Oklahoma City through 2050. If the arena is to be built without raising taxes, where is the mayor getting the funds? Taxpayers are concerned.

Thunder chairman Clay Bennett released an official statement:

“For fifteen years, the Thunder has been honored to help lead the transformation of Oklahoma City and enhance the tremendous pride our citizens have in their community. We now have an opportunity to build on that progress, advance our status as a true big-league City, continue to grow our economy and secure the long-term future of the Thunder.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with Mayor Holt, members of the City Council, and the forward-thinking business and civic leaders in our community. Together we can develop an arena to serve as a crowning achievement in the ongoing renaissance of Oklahoma City.”

Thunder ownership plan to commit $50 million (approximately 5.5%) toward the new arena in downtown Oklahoma City. Of course, this percentage covers just the minimum construction cost.

Oklahoma City Thunder unveil plans for a new arena worth a minimum of $900 million for the 2029-30 season; Thunder ownership to commit only $50 million toward construction cost

Notwithstanding the majority of the funding for the city-owned arena coming from a temporary one-cent sales tax, to be voted on by Oklahoma City residents on Dec. 12, Holt praised Bennett and Thunder ownership for their $50 million commitment.

“I commend and thank Clay Bennett and the entire Thunder organization for their collaboration during this process,” Holt said in a press release.

The Thunder’s seven-member ownership group includes Bennett, the chairman, along with William M. Cameron, George B. Kaiser, Robert E. Howard II, G. Jeffery Records, Everett R. Dobson, and Jay Scaramucci.

Paycom Center, the NBA team’s current arena, broke ground on May 11, 1999. The estimated construction cost was $89.2 million ($164.38 million in 2023). The architects were The Benham Companies, LLC and Sink Combs Dethlefs. Flintco Construction Co. is the general contractor.

Paycom Center first opened on June 8, 2002. For basketball, the arena holds a max seating capacity of 18,203. The arena was named Ford Center from 2002 to 2010, Oklahoma City Arena from 2010 to 2011, and Chesapeake Energy Arena from 2011 to 2021.

Besides the Oklahoma City Thunder, other tenants include the Oklahoma City Blazers (2002-09), Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz (2004-08), New Orleans Hornets (2005-07), and the Oklahoma City Blue (2021-present). The arena has also hosted concerts, WWE, boxing, and MMA matches.

The Hornets (now Pelicans) played their home games in Oklahoma for a few NBA seasons after New Orleans Arena/Smoothie King Center sustained excessive damage from Hurricane Katrina.

The planned seating capacity and size of the new arena are unknown at this time.

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