Thunder owner seeks $135m in sales-tax money to upgrade arena that already got $195m in sales-tax money in the last 20 years

Way back in the early days of this website, there was a man named Rick Horrow who used to go around to small-to-mid-size cities selling them on the idea of a 1% sales tax hike to pay for big construction projects, usually involving sports venues of some kind. As I recall, Birmingham told him to take a hike, as did Norfolk, but Oklahoma City thought he was the bee’s knees, and signed up for his MAPS plan to use sales-tax money to build, among other things, the new arena that eventually became home to the Thunder.

OKC is now in its 4th iteration of MAPS — one was called, hilariously enough, “MAPS for kids,” which always makes me think of this — and don’t you know it, the Thunder owners think it’s high time for them to get another cut of the boodle:

In the third day of proposals for MAPS 4, officials made a pitch for up to $135 million in improvements to Chesapeake Arena and the Thunder practice facility…

The proposed budget includes $55 to $60 million for fan amenities, $30 to $33 million for other arena improvements, $12 to $15 million for practice facility enhancements and arena maintenance at $23 to $27 million.

I would normally make a quip here, but, guys, I’m so tired. Some days writing these posts feels like shooting fish in a barrel; other days it feels like shooting fish that are continually replenished from some unseen reservoir, and that will continue to appear no matter how many I shoot. Hell, I’ve even already written about teams that keep going back to the well for more cash year after year once they get a new stadium — what more is there to add here, other than, “Yeah, the Thunder owners are doing it too”?

Instead, how about I just link to a page that lists Thunder owner Clay Bennett’s net worth, and describes how as a minority owner of the San Antonio Spurs, he maneuvered for the New Orleans Hornets to be temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City, helping pave the way for him to buy the Seattle Sonics and move them there permanently? Yeah, that feels better. Here’s some vaportecture of people at a bar for your trouble:


7 comments on “Thunder owner seeks $135m in sales-tax money to upgrade arena that already got $195m in sales-tax money in the last 20 years

  1. Maybe he could threaten to move them back to Seattle if he doesn’t get… nah, I can’t type that with a straight face.

    (OKC will totally cave to his proposal anyway)

    • Why would they ever want to do that? They’re much more successful in OKC than they ever were in Seattle. The Sonics lost money every year because of their horrible lease and poor revenue for the team in Key Arena, that they couldn’t afford to put a decent team on the court. . The friendly lease and arena revenues from over 10 consecutive years of every game being sold out in OKC has resulted In the team being able to afford a payroll that’s resulted in the Thunder having the second highest winning percentage in the NBA over the last decade… Our arena is coming up on being 2 decades old and by upgrading technology and fan amenities every 10 years or so has pushed needing a new arena well in to the future… Seattle made bad decisions, cheaped out on their remodel when other city’s were doing major upgrades and lost their team just a decade later because of poor revenues leaving the Sonics unable to be financially viable…and basically going bankrupt.

    • That’s blowing out one side of the arena that’s currently just corridors and adding food, beer, drinks and other fan amenities on all three levels… it’s a great addition… Almost everything their doing is going to enhancing the fan experience…

      • …and the rendering is of the upper level where the cheap seats are… It’s huge improvement over what’s available up there now.