Proposal For New OKC Arena Endorsed By Minority Chambers Of Commerce

The vote over a new OKC arena is about two weeks away. Find out what the potential economic impact could be if it's approved.

Wednesday, November 29th 2023, 11:03 pm

By: News 9, Matt McCabe

Several more organizations have joined a coalition led by Keep OKC Big League to support the proposal of a new downtown arena by extending the current one-cent sales tax in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City's Asian, Black, and Hispanic chambers of commerce were among the new groups that signed onto the coalition. According to data from the U.S. Census, approximately 47% of Oklahoma City's residents are people of color. "We want to make sure that our constituents are able to receive some of the contracts for building the stadium as well as service and be able to sell products there in the arena," said David Castillo, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which has 400 members.

One of its members is Cocina De Mino, which is a Mexican restaurant that has operated in the city for multiple decades.

"The arena will really help a lot because we will be able to contribute to the celebration," said Mia Medrano, operations manager for the restaurant, which does many bulk orders and catering. "Without the thunder, people are not gathering."

Castillo said he was part of several meetings with the city, Thunder representatives, and representatives from the other chambers of commerce. He said it's something everyone he has talked to is on board with.

Greater Oklahoma City Asian Chamber of Commerce president Scarlet Le-Cao said their chamber is especially grateful for the Thunder's involvement in the community. "A new arena will be a significant boost to Oklahoma City as residents and guests from all over the world enjoy the amenities in our community, bringing with them tax dollars and other revenue that benefit thousands of businesses in the local economy," Le-Cao said.

Representatives for the Oklahoma City Black Chamber of Commerce did not respond by the time this story was published.

Opposition group Buy Your Own Arena has criticized the plan for seeking public funding. "Oklahoma City has underinvested in minority communities for generations," said Nick Singer, a spokesperson for the opposition group. "Taxing a city that is 47% Black and brown and transferring their tax dollars to the white billionaires that own the Thunder is not an investment we need to make. They can buy their own arena."


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