OKC’s Taxpayers’ Cost To Remain A Big League City? $850 Million


OKC’s Taxpayers’ Cost To Remain A Big League City? $850 Million

What is the price to taxpayers of a small market city to stay in the big leagues? In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma it is at least $850 million. The city, according to its Mayor David Holt, needs a new arena to keep the National Basketball Association’s Thunder in town because the present city-owned 21-year-old structure that houses Thunder basketball is outdated. The campaign to get voters to say yes to spending $850 million for a private business to operate in Oklahoma City has started and a vote will be taken on December 12th. If voters say yes, then Oklahoma City taxpayers will be responsible for 94 percent of the building’s cost. The Thunder ownership will chip in $50 million because the ownership has to contribute something in a public-private partnership. The Thunder ownership will stay in the building until 2050.

Holt wants Oklahoma City to retain big league city status even if it costs nearly a billion dollars.  “I just think that when it comes to the concerts, major league sports, quality of life, the economic impact and growth, the international brand, the economic ability to help all people, the fact that we can do all that without a tax increase I think is a win-win.” The no tax increase wording seems a bit of a stretch. There is an existing one cent on the dollar tax that is supposed to end in 2028. A new tax would replace that tax if the voters say yes. Just how important to Oklahoma City is an NBA franchise? Oklahoma City would have added people and businesses without the team. After the National Football League expanded into Charlotte, North Carolina in 1995, business leaders were asked if having a team was a factor in setting up shop in Charlotte. The answer was no.

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