Oklahoma City has finalized plans to build a new downtown arena for the Thunder, the city announced Tuesday.
The Thunder have committed to play in the new arena for at least 25 years, according to the city’s news release. The plan to construct the arena and the Thunder’s commitment is conditional on the passage of a temporary one-cent sales tax by Oklahoma City voters on Dec. 12.
The projected cost of the arena will be a minimum of $900 million. Thunder ownership has committed to contribute $50 million.
“As this very public discussion played out over the last year, the people of Oklahoma City have overwhelmingly expressed to me two desires — (1) keep the Thunder for as long as possible, and (2) don’t raise taxes if it can be avoided. We have accomplished those two priorities with this plan, and it is truly a win-win for all of us,” Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt said in the news release.
“Perhaps the most important aspect of the deal is the length — this is twice the commitment we received in 2008 and will keep the Thunder here beyond 2050. My children will be my age when this agreement ends. For a generation, we will retain the economic impact and quality-of-life benefits we have enjoyed as a big-league City. It is an investment that pays for itself many times over.”
The city’s news release cited a study that estimated the Thunder’s annual economic impact at $600 million with 3,000 jobs created. The Thunder have played in the 21-year-old Paycom Center since moving to Oklahoma City in 2008. The franchise’s long-term agreement to stay in Oklahoma City expired earlier this year, but the Thunder exercised a short-term extension while participating in the arena planning process.
The intent is for the arena to be open by the 2029-30 NBA season.