Arena Poll Showing Lack Of Support Under Scrutiny

A recent poll shows a majority of OKC voters do not support a new arena, but is there a reason for skepticism?

Saturday, October 28th 2023, 1:27 pm

By: News 9, Colby Thelen


Oklahoma City voters will head to the polls to vote on the plan funding a new downtown arena in a little over 6 weeks. 

 On Saturday, those opposed to the proposition plan to gather supporters for a community conversation.

The leader of that opposition group is Oklahoma Progress Now founder Nick Singer.

 “It’s the worst deal for an NBA Arena in the last decade,” Singer said.

The deal funds 95% of the arena with a continuation of the penny sales tax, and 5% would come from the Thunder’s ownership.

“If a bunch of billionaires want to build themselves an arena, go for it,” says Singer.

He created a website demanding just that: build your own arena.

The website touts a recent Emerson Poll that asked people claiming to live in Oklahoma City if they were in favor of paying a 1% sales tax.

Of the respondents, 22% said yes, and 53% said no.

“When you look at their survey, they only surveyed 82 people,” Kyle Loveless with WPA Intelligence said.

He says he believes there are many reasons to be skeptical of those numbers, which were taken as a subset of nearly 500 polled statewide.

He adds that the survey doesn’t appear to verify whether those in the subset are all within city limits.

“They used a shotgun approach when they need to be using a scalpel,” Loveless said. “They didn’t take likely voters. They didn’t take registered voters.”

He also questions the methodology used.

“They used a technology called IVR, which can only be used on landlines,” Loveless said. “Well, in Oklahoma, that’s only 20 percent of the people.”

The smaller sample size also pushes the margin of error to plus or minus 10 percent for an election date with historically low turnout.

“It’s not going to change the results,” Singer said.

He remains optimistic that the percentage will hold regardless of the margin of error.

“For them to be saying 22% support and 53% oppose - even in a small sample size - is a strong indication the public is very concerned about this deal. And they should be,” Singer said.

Singer believes a no vote could bring a better deal to the table.

Those who disagree fear it will cause the Thunder to walk away completely.

OKC residents can vote in the special election on December 12th.

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A spokesperson for the Oklahoma City Chamber issued a statement Friday afternoon:

Regarding an issue as important to Oklahoma City’s quality of life, economy, and national image as the proposed OKC arena, we would hope to see a poll with a sample size that includes more than just 82 people. That is only .01% of Oklahoma City’s population of more than 687,000. And who knows how many of those polled are registered voters. Obviously, we believe these results are outside the bounds of viability. 

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