The Cost For OKC To Remain A Big League City Is At Least $850 Million

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FILE - In this Sept. 2, 2020, file photo, the NBA logo is displayed at center court during an NBA first-round playoff basketball game between the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. NBA training camps open around the league Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020,though on-court sessions will be limited to individual workouts and only for those players who have gotten three negative coronavirus test results back in the last few days. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

OKC will remain a big league town until 2050.

We now know what the cost to taxpayers is for a city to claim “big league status”. It is at least $850 million and Oklahoma City taxpayers are fine with paying for a new arena for the National Basketball Association’s Oklahoma City Thunder franchise. The estimated cost of the construction for the venue is $900 million and there is no doubt that cost will rise as Oklahoma City officials prepare to put shovels into the ground. Oklahoma City citizens are pleased to be a part of a “big league town”. In a referendum, seventy-one  percent of the voters said yes and only 29 percent voted against continuing a one percent sales tax hike that will cover the city’s cost of construction. The vote was held on an odd date, December 12th. Just 15 percent of Oklahoma City eligible voters cast a ballot on the arena referendum.

The Oklahoma City Thunder ownership group could have the new building by 2028 and will stay in the building through 2050. At least that is the plan although 22-year-old arenas are quickly outdated and by 2045, whoever owns the franchise might be looking for a new building. Oklahoma City and people who buy things in Oklahoma City will pick up at least 94.44 percent of the arena’s construction tab. The billionaire owners of the NBA team are on the hook for slightly more than five percent of the arena’s price tag. Oklahoma City will own the new arena and the Thunder ownership will rent out the building. But there is no public lease agreement available which means at this point it is not known how much money the city will get once the lease is signed. The mayor, David Holt, was relieved with the yes vote because Oklahoma City is not like Amarillo, Texas which Holt said is not a big-league town.

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Because Oklahoma City has an NBA team, its Mayor David Holt says it’s not Amarillo, Texas