‘Blindsided': OKC Council Member Calls Timeout On New Thunder Arena Proposal

The newly announced Thunder Arena proposal is now facing backlash.

Tuesday, September 12th 2023, 10:28 pm


Oklahoma City and the Thunder have finalized a plan for the construction of a new arena. However, one council member says the public deserves more opportunities to offer their input.

That’s why she wants the city to take a timeout on this plan. OKC Mayor David Holt said the potential upgrade is needed to keep the Thunder long-term. 

“The arena is sort of the centerpiece of your city’s quality of life and its identity,” Holt said. “A city with our aspirations deserves an arena with this scale.”

Holt pointed to an arena as an avenue to keep the Thunder in Oklahoma City for the foreseeable future.   

“We need a longer commitment than 15 years,” Holt said.

The $900 million proposed project would be paid for by the continuation of a temporary one-cent sales tax.  At least $70 million from MAPS 4 and $50 million contribution by the owners of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Holt said this announcement comes after a year's worth of conversations.  

“I feel somewhat blindsided,” said JoBeth Hamon, an Oklahoma City Council member.

Hamon understands the Thunder’s appeal, but she takes issue with the idea everyone had a voice in this process.

“That really hasn’t been the case,” Hamon said.

Hamon pointed to other priorities with the city.

“Homelessness and lack of quality housing,” Hamon said.

Hamon would also like to see a wage floor with a new arena (like the one the Milwaukee Bucks granted in the creation of Fiserv Forum) that guarantees the people who work at the arena are paid fairly.

“I think that’s one model that are some good options that we could’ve been exploring,” Hamon said.

Holt said he wants to have more conversations.

“That particular council member has never contacted me,” Holt said. “I am very easy to find.”

Hamon said she thinks the owners of the Thunder can contribute more to their new home. 

“For a team that is owned by billionaires ... we’re stating our values to the public about who we value in our community,” Hamon said. 

The council will hear the proposal on September 26. If approved, voters would get to decide on December 12.


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