OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – At the State of the City on Thursday, Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt announced plans for a new, upgraded Thunder arena to be voted on by the end of 2023.
“This new arena will in many ways be our first NBA arena,” said Mayor Holt at the State of the City. “It will be designed for basketball, with far more seats in the lower bowl, better sight lines for everyone, and unprecedented proximity all the way to the last row.”
The speech was held at the Oklahoma City Convention Center downtown where hundreds gathered in attendance for a luncheon.
“Though an agreement remains to be finalized and much remains fluid,” said Mayor Holt. “I can report to you today that we are close to a jointly agreeable proposal that will construct a new downtown arena that meets the modern standards of the NBA and the concert industry. We believe we can and must present this agreement before the end of summer, with an election before the end of 2023.”
At last year’s State of the City, the Mayor announced the need for an upgraded Thunder arena. The Thunder’s lease at Paycom Center ends in 2026 after they signed a short-term extension.
“It has already been a full year since I shared this with you, and I’ve heard a lot of perspectives from City Councilmembers, city leaders, and residents alike, and we’ve had a lot of opportunities to incorporate those perspectives into our discussions,” said the mayor.
The mayor mentioned that the current arena OKC has is the smallest in the league in terms of square footage.
“Size equals opportunity. Let’s be real, the teams and promoters who use your arena want to make money, and they can make more money in every other NBA arena, just because of the square footage,” said Mayor Holt.
A major takeaway from the speech was that funding his proposal will not require extra taxes from residents. The mayor announced the plan as getting money from an extension of the MAPS 4 plans.
On top of that, the mayor announced that a significant financial contribution will come from the ownership of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“No tax increase will be necessary,” said Mayor Holt.
Mayor Holt added that the new arena will have more seats, a bigger size, and clearer viewing areas for those attending the games.
“We will secure this team for such a span of time that I can tell you today that a superstar who will play for our city in this arena, in the next lease term, isn’t even born yet. And yet, Sam Presti is probably already holding the draft pick to get him,” said Mayor Holt.
The mayor said the plans will be given over to the City Council before the end of summer and go to an election before the end of the year.
“More details of an arena agreement will come. I’m not keeping them from you, they’re just not finalized yet. We’ll need to button some things up, and get feedback from our City Council, and ultimately from you. As always, you’ll have the final say as to whether our city’s renaissance will continue,” said Mayor Holt.