'It’s Exciting To Think About The Possibilities:' New Arena Could Help Bring Big Events To OKC

In one week Oklahoma City residents will vote on whether to extend the 1 cent sales tax to fund a new arena. Some say a new concert venue could bring more events to the city.

Tuesday, December 5th 2023, 5:32 pm

By: News 9, Colby Thelen


In one week Oklahoma City voters will decide whether to extend the one cent sales tax to fund a new arena.

That arena would be home to at least 43 Thunder games each season in addition to tour events. The Paycom Center scheduled 52 events in 2023 and the general manager says it takes effort to stay competitive with what they have. 

Before concerts, comedy acts, or wrestling events the places out of sight to fans are the first seen by the entertainers. “Space is a premium backstage,” said Paycom Center General Manager Chris Semrau. 

He walks through the space meant to give artists a memorable experience. It mostly consists of a hallway and storage area. 

“We’ll do whatever it takes,” he said. “If it’s taking a locker room and [turning] it into a green room, or taking a storage area and making it into an artist catering facility, we’ll do whatever.” 

It once meant turning the hallway into a St. Patrick’s Day parade route for Blake Shelton.

Each experience is custom-made. “So when they leave here they say that was the best day on the tour and we want to come back to OKC,” said Semrau. 

He adds that is something they consistently hear, but he imagines what a “yes” vote would mean on December 12. "You couple the creative efforts we already deploy with first-class new modern amenities, I think the impact would be one of a kind across the country,” he said.

Those who want to see a “no” vote however, say the 95 percent taxpayer bill is too much to overcome.

Nick Singer, who started the group Buy Your Own Arena, also believes a new venue may only draw two to five additional shows.

He doesn’t believe the price is worth it. “Concerts go where there are people,” Singer said. “So unless we’re going to import four million more people into the Oklahoma City metro area – that’s what drives concert stops.”

Semrau says revenue does play a part in a tour stop, but he believes a new space could increase event capacity. 

In the current situation, he says, it becomes more difficult to book year after year. “We’re competing against multi-states when we’re chasing tours,” said Semrau. “A new modern facility would help position us as a place that artists want to get to not just a place we have to convince them to come.” 

Early voting begins Thursday. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. December 12th.


Get The Daily Update!

Be among the first to get breaking news, weather, and general news updates from News 9 delivered right to your inbox!

More Like This

December 5th, 2023

December 12th, 2023

December 11th, 2023

November 30th, 2023

Top Headlines

April 24th, 2024

April 24th, 2024

April 24th, 2024

April 24th, 2024