On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Council voted to set a Dec. 12 citywide vote on a proposed 1% sales tax for six years that would help fund a new $900 million arena to keep the Oklahoma City Thunder in the city through 2050.
The new NBA arena will cost at least $900 million. Plus, the council voted 7-2 to approve a letter of intent with the Thunder’s ownership group that would require the group to contribute $50 million (approximately 5.5%) toward the arena’s cost.
Moreover, the Thunder’s seven-member ownership group includes Clay Bennett, the chairman, along with William M. Cameron, George B. Kaiser, Robert E. Howard II, G. Jeffery Records, Everett R. Dobson, and Jay Scaramucci.
Press release from the City of Oklahoma City on the City Council voting today: pic.twitter.com/qyyP7pHmJw
— Rylan Stiles (@Rylan_Stiles) September 26, 2023
On Sept. 12, OKC chairman Clay Bennett unveiled plans for a new arena in his official statement:
“For fifteen years, the Thunder has been honored to help lead the transformation of Oklahoma City and enhance the tremendous pride our citizens have in their community. We now have an opportunity to build on that progress, advance our status as a true big-league City, continue to grow our economy and secure the long-term future of the Thunder.
“We look forward to continuing our partnership with Mayor Holt, members of the City Council, and the forward-thinking business and civic leaders in our community. Together we can develop an arena to serve as a crowning achievement in the ongoing renaissance of Oklahoma City.”
Oklahoma City Council approves Dec. 15 vote on new $900 million arena to keep the Thunder in the city through 2050; vote is for a proposed 1% sales tax for six years to help fund arena
Additionally, the deal also calls for $70 million in city funds from an existing sales tax approved by voters in 2019 for upgrades to the current Paycom Center.
“I commend the Council for authorizing me to sign this historic letter of intent, I thank the Thunder for their partnership, and I congratulate all of OKC for getting to this point,” Mayor David Holt said in a statement.
According to the proposed plan, the six-year, one-cent sales tax would begin April 1, 2028, when the current MAPS 4 sales tax ends so the city’s sales tax rate would remain unchanged.
Although the location of the new arena is unknown at this time, the deal calls for the arena to open in time for the 2029-30 NBA season. The Thunder have played in OKC since the 2008-09 season.
The full video of Tuesday’s Oklahoma City Council meeting is featured above.
Furthermore, not everyone agrees with this plan. Council members Nikki Nice and JoBeth Hamon opposed both the proposed sales tax and the letter of intent with the Thunder owners.
OKC ownership’s $50 million contribution covers just the minimum construction cost. The seating capacity for the new arena has yet to be determined. Paycom Center, the Thunder’s current arena, first opened on June 8, 2002.
For basketball, the current arena holds a max seating capacity of 18,203.