Chris McKinnon, News 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- NBA players and owners reach a tentative agreement to play a shortened season this year. And Thunder fans, along with area business owners, are ready for it.
11/26/2011 Related Story: NBA Reaches Tentative Deal To End Lockout
The fans told News 9 they are excited for the Thunder season to get underway, but other said the impact of those home and away games goes beyond just having a good time.
"Anytime there's an NBA home game, your parking lots get full, your restaurants get full and, you know, there's a lot of people downtown doing stuff and that usually builds out local economy," Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said.
On a day when many fans are cheering on their college football teams, news spread like wildfire that the NBA lockout was another step closer to ending.
"We actually had a fan wearing a Durant jersey in the restaurant today. That was the first one I'd seen in quite a while," said Ed Lynn with the Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, located near Northwest Expressway.
The fans are pumped up for the shortened season.
"Championship. They're going to win it this year," Thunder fan Brian Jenkins said.
"The thunder is the best thing that ever happened to Oklahoma City, and I am thrilled that our team plays so well and I'm thrilled we're having a season," Thunder fan Art said.
And businesses are ready to welcome Thunder fans into their restaurants and stores.
"It's good for our business too. Football has been good but we need basketball for our business to kind of carry us through the winter and the spring,"Lynn said.
"We all do very well when the thunder is playing and it was very frustrating when they weren't," said Chad Huntington with the Oklahoma Red Dirt Emporium.
Mayor Cornett said having the Thunder puts Oklahoma City on a different level.
"The real benefit of this team is them wearing Oklahoma City on their jerseys and playing on that worldwide stage known as the NBA. That's difficult to quantify but very real," Mayor Cornett said.
If all goes according to plan, we could see the Chesapeake Arena packed for a home by the end of next month.
The way it looks right now, NBA teams will play a 66-game schedule starting on Christmas Day.