OKLAHOMA CITY - It was supposed to be a way to show support for the Thunder and bring the community together.
“Great idea. Let’s make it a public event, and let’s show the game outdoors so, if you don’t have a ticket, you can come and watch the game. Bring your kids and a picnic basket and have a great time,” said Thomas Anderson, Executive Director-Special Projects Oklahoma City.
Anderson said the idea work a little too well.
“It got to be too much of a success. At peak, there were 9,000 people in a relatively confined area,” he said.
An area he said legally wasn’t supposed to be used for that purpose.
According to state law, it’s illegal to completely restrict access to a public street.
“There were so many people in the street. If someone were to have a heart attack, we could not get an emergency vehicle there. If some catastrophic event happened inside Chesapeake arena and we have to evacuate the building, there was no place to go,” he said.
The decision was made to stop airing the games in Thunder Alley.
Anderson said it had to do with overcrowding and security concerns and not because of a nearby shooting in Bricktown.
But, now, there is a push to bring the idea back.
“There’s been a lot that’s been missing, a lot of people that feel like there is a void,” said Blair Cole.
Cole is behind a petition drive called Bring back Thunder Alley.
“On the nationwide scale, it looks like Oklahoma City doesn’t really support our team. You look at Toronto, they have Jurassic Park. We have one of the best teams in the league, why shouldn’t we be able to support our team in the best way we can,” Cole said.
How do those other cities make it work? Anderson said it’s all about space and location.
“That’s how they do it in Cleveland, that’s how they do it in Toronto and other facilities is that they have a private manageable area to restrict the number of people who come in and make sure that it is safe,” Anderson said.
The city said it’s open to the idea of something similar to Thunder Alley.