So, they’re wanting a new arena for the OKC Thunder…
7:45 AM EDT on July 21, 2022
Get your pennies ready!
In last week's OKC Chamber of Commerce-backed "State of the City" address, Oklahoma City mayor David Holt unofficially kick-started a new arena campaign by announcing upgrades to PayCom Arena would be put on hold while the City and Thunder worked out a plan for a new facility.
Yep, Maps 5 Thunder-edition is officially in the works! Here's the snippet:
Before you could say "OKC Streetcar," Steve Lackmeyer had an article about the big reveal ready to go on The Oklahoman's website. Berry Trammel and Jenni Carlson followed suit with columns, explaining to the 5,000 people who still regularly read their stuff some of the valid reasons why OKC needs a new arena. I have to admit, it was beautifully choreographed journalism!
The news seemed to take the locals on social media by surprise.
Like most wedge issues, sports arena and stadium debates can get heated and vitriolic quickly, with both sides being totally incapable of comprehending the other's point of view. Battlelines were clearly drawn after the news break, turning friends against each other like brothers fighting on opposite sides on the hills at Gettysburg.
It even shook up things at Ogle Manor!
Abortion. Guns. Gays. Arenas. I call it A.G.G.A., and they're the four things you should never discuss with friends or uncles at dinner.
There was lots and lots of bickering back and forth on social media on the topic, with the usual suspects leading the charge on both sides of the issue. If you want to venture into those insufferable waters, feel free.
It will be interesting to see what type of plan the city and team put together for a new arena, and what type of organized opposition rises up against it.
Just a few years ago, I had David Holt on The Lost Ogle Show.
In a great case of foreshadowing, I questioned why MAPS 4EVER earmarked $110-million for arena improvements when the team would likely need a new one in a couple of years later. Basically, why spend $10,000 to fix up your Camry when you're going to buy a new Tesla in a couple of years?
He kind of dodged the question, but did admit "I don't know if the political will is there today for that."
I can see why Mayor Holt thinks that way.
Most of the wealthy right-wing types who hate the NBA and call Holt a RINO will likely oppose any publicly-funded arena measure, as will the local left-wing counter-culture brigade that hates rich people and corporate subsidies. You'll also get a lot of pushback from cheap old white people who vote. Will these three different camps unite to oppose a new arena? In two years, we may see Carol Hefner and Mark Faulk standing at the Shady Gardens retirement center, holding hands and exchanging friendship bracelets, encouraging everyone to vote "No" for a new arena.
For what it's worth, I'm totally for a new arena.
Will it benefit rich people? Yes. Could the money be better spent on something else? Sure. Is it a sad reality of capitalistic sports economics? Of course.
But I'm a sports fan, and I like having a hometown NBA basketball team. It's fun to watch and follow and gives me something to do on boring winter nights and – now that we're in a rebuild – hot summer days. I'm fine pitching in a penny on every dollar to have that around. Plus, the arena does suck and we could use a bigger and better one.
In addition to the purely selfish reasons above, I've also lived in the metro for 44 years – my entire fucking life – and can safely say that landing the OKC Thunder is the best damn thing that's ever happened to this city. Yeah, I know there's not a lot to compete with, but what tops it?
Whether you care about the Thunder or not, there is no way to argue the team hasn't boosted our city's stature and national reputation. We're still a sleepy little flyover state in the middle of nowhere, but hey, at least we still have a real-life major league sports franchise. That makes us notable. Would you rather talk to your Lyft driver about Chet Holmgren's body or Joe Exotic's husbands? It's an easy answer.
All that being said, I guess I am getting a bit ahead of myself here.
The only thing we know so far is Mayor David Holt and the OKC Ruling Class is warming up the engine on a new arena. And although I'm sure the Chamber of Commerce, along with their pals at City Hall, already have a plan in place and pitch figured out, we're still in wait-and-see mode. Basically, we have plenty of time to argue about this over the next couple of years.
Stay with The Lost Ogle. We'll keep you advised.
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