City Council To Vote On New Downtown Arena Funding Tuesday

Oklahoma City council preparing to vote on new arena Tuesday morning.

Tuesday, September 26th 2023, 11:45 am

By: News 9

Oklahoma City Council is set to vote on a penny sales tax to fund a new arena. Mayor Holt said this is the best, possibly only way, to keep the Thunder. 

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"You just enter a new tier of city when you have a major league professional sports team," said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. “That's what’s at stake.” 

He reiterated how high those stakes are in an interview with News 9 earlier this month. "We are out of a long-term lease with this team," he said. "Our future as a big-league city won't be viable anymore." 

According to Mayor Holt, a new arena is the only thing standing in the city's way. "No franchise in the NBA is going to sign a long-term lease to play in the Paycom Center," he said. 

The penny sales tax on OKC City Council's agenda Tuesday is intended to provide the majority chunk of funding. 

"Is this really us being competitive with other markets or is this just the thunder ownership taking advantage of that sense that we might lose them?" said JoBeth Hamon, the City Council representative for Ward 6. 

She stands firm on her stance ahead of the vote. "I think we can do better by our citizens and by our taxpayers," she said. Hamon thinks the split of funding is too unbalanced. The sales tax would generate an estimated $976 million for the new arena, while the Thunder owners are kicking in $50 million. 

"If they love being here so much, why are they asking so much from the taxpayers and not contributing more on the private end," she said. 

She cites issues like homelessness, city storm drainage, plus other maintenance, and upgrade projects as a better place for those dollars. But Mayor Holt says the city needs to keep growing economically to fund those projects-- and losing the Thunder would be a setback. 

"Your economy shrinks, your population growth shrinks and suddenly you don't have the economic wherewithal to do all these things that we've been doing the last few years," he said. 

The City Council will vote on the funding plan for the new arena Tuesday morning. If approved, the proposal will roll out to voters on December 12th. 


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