Economic Impact Of No Fans At Thunder Games

Wednesday, December 16th 2020, 7:32 pm
By: Tevis Hillis

Typically, many would be gathering downtown for Thunder tipoff, but it's looking different this year as fans will not be inside the building, due to the pandemic. A decision that impacts the local economy.

March 11 was the last time the Chesapeake Energy Arena held cheering basketball fans.

"Obviously, it's a massive impact to not to get host guest in the facility. We are an event-based business," said Chris Semrau, the General Manager at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The pandemic has affected the way the arena does business. Without 18,000 fans filling the stands, this impacts employees and vendors, but it also affects those outside of the arena.

"In a typical year, 750,000 or three-quarters of a million people attend Thunder games on the regular season," said Eric Long, a research economist with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

According to the Greater OKC Chamber, not having events drawing crowds continues to hurt the economy.

Those who live in the area in a day will, on average, spend $75 on food and drinks.

Those coming from out of town will spend three times that, about $237 dollars on average. That includes food and drinks, but also hotels and transportation.

"When people are not in town, it definitely has a spending impact on our local economy," said Long.

For Chalk, a local sports bar, this entire pandemic has influenced business, but the peak of the concern came when sports was not thought to return.

"From a sports bar standpoint, it hurt pretty bad," said Benjamin Mason, the general manager and partner of Chalk.

The city said that each sold-out game has about a $1.6 million economic impact on the city. The Thunder has no date to when fans will be allowed back.