new OKC arena
(Mike Allen)

When Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt gave his State of the City address on July 14, he wanted to get people talking.

The Thunder needing a new OKC arena in the coming years is certainly a conversation starter on social media. Should the city build a new arena and lease it to the Thunder, much like the current Paycom Center? Should the team’s wealthy owners leverage their franchise’s financial success to build a private arena? What would a new OKC arena funded partially by public dollars and partially by private investment look like? Will team owners consider selling to investors in another city if a new arena is not built? And exactly how valuable is a professional sports franchise overall — to a city and to its owners?

Even as very few details are known about the proposed new OKC arena project, people are predictably taking hard stances on the matter. The value of having an NBA team in the city can be hard to understate. While the value of an arena will be stated — especially if voters are asked to approve the use of tax dollars — we just don’t know what the new OKC arena proposal will be or how we will get there at this point.

It must be noted, too, that the Paycom Center will be in use for some years after a decision is made. Projects like these are not funded and built overnight, and the more robust conversation this community has about its major public investments, the better. So let the shouting continue in the comments below, but try to be respectful!

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