For fear of losing the Thunder, the city of Oklahoma City will renovate the hall

During a city council on Thursday, the mayor of Oklahoma City announced that the Thunder had agreed to sign a new three-year lease at the Paycom Center. In 2008, when the Sonics moved to OKC, the leaders signed a 15-year contract with the city, and this first lease ends in 2023.

Now Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s teammates are guaranteed to play in this room until 2026, but the vagueness remains on what to do next. The hall is outdated and Mayor David Holt is well aware that the stadium must live up to current standards to prevent the owners from deciding to look elsewhere, as in 2008. This only three-year lease appears like a sword of Damocles.

“Obviously we want a long-term relationship with professional sport in this city,” Holt said at that public meeting. “And for that, you have to have modern and competitive facilities. »

Designed in 2002, the current hall is 20 years old, and it was originally built to accommodate an NHL franchise. Alas, OKC has never been held back with each hockey league expansion.

Rather than rebuilding a hall, like the Warriors in San Francisco, the city voted for a $115 million renovation plan. Ten million of this sum will be devoted to the training center. The rest will be for the hall, and the first works will begin this summer. For the training center, we will have to wait until spring 2026. As the mayor explains, the goal is not to add places or put up state-of-the-art giant screens, but to focus on the outdoors. to make it a real living space with shops, entertainment, restaurants…

“We now belong to a hypercompetitive environment, an unforgiving environment”

“A lot of people think of theaters in terms of seating,” continues Holt. “It’s only part of the revenue-generating experience for both sports teams and concerts. Take advantage of all this space for all the other elements of the user experience. And our area (54,000 m²) is the smallest in the entire NBA, and not just a little. »

For him, the competition is very severe today. He thus recalls that 18 cities larger than OKC do not have an NBA franchise, and that some have more modern and more attractive rooms.

“Our rise through the ranks of NBA cities has been remarkable because it has ushered us into an entirely new circle of peer cities. This means that we now belong to a hypercompetitive environment, an unforgiving environment. We’re not in a junior version of the NBA, we’re in the same league as teams that play in halls worth billions of dollars, and we have non-NBA cities checking our status healthy every morning. Ultimately, if we want to be a top 20 city, we have to act like one. »

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