It’s not going to be quick, but the chances of a new Thunder arena are rising.
Oklahoma City mayor David Holt mentioned the possibility in his State of the City address earlier this summer.
While no official plans have been made or announced, the long-term effects of the possibility of a new stadium couldn’t be bigger. The announcement itself couldn’t come at a more important time in the OKC franchise.
The Thunder are at one of the brighter points in the franchise's time in Oklahoma and certainly the brightest in recent memory.
A new stadium wouldn't even open for the next six to eight years if not longer, since no official plans have been announced, but the impact is huge, especially to the draw of young players.
The Oklahoma City roster is flush with young potential like 2022 No. 2 overall pick Chet Holmgren or No. 12 pick Jalen Williams. Even Shai Gilgeous- Alexander is only 24.
The future of a new stadium also draws eyes, something OKC has struggled to do during the rebuild, on top of being in a small market.
Small market teams need all the help they can to attract fans and big name free agents, a new stadium can do that.
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The Thunder are also loaded with draft picks for nearly a decade.
The Paycom Center is a good venue. Plenty of musical artists are attracted to it and it’s got the right setup to be loud when full. Loud City had been known as one of the better fan environments in the Thunder’s heyday.
But the Paycom Center is far from perfect. The location of the arena causes traffic nightmares on game days being right next to the biggest building in the state. Parking isn’t ideal and the area of town isn’t perfect either.
The Thunder have gone through a total facelift in recent years and if the city is committed to the team for the long haul the positives of starting construction on a new stadium is major.
It makes sense to do it now. The Thunder are going through rapid changes and could be back toward the top by the time the new stadium comes around.
There’s not many better ways to signal the coming end of the rebuilding cycle than commitment to success and a new arena for the young Thunder to play in down the road.
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