NBA "sunbelt" expansion has also failed
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02-13-2013, 02:51 PM
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Oklahoma City
Originally Posted by
They had Hornets for a season after Katrina, sold out every game and was loud and energetic.
OKC is probably a lot like Winnipeg in terms of fandom, 1 team, and they are going to love it regardless.
Exactly. It's just so funny how OKC is now a basketball mecca or whatever. The arena the Thunder play in, Chesapeake Arena, was built to spec for the NHL! You'll recall it was OKC and Houston left out of the last round of expansion. Well, the arena was finished in time for what would have been the start of the 2002-03 hockey season. It has a giant press box/sky suite section at the top of it - something not put in arenas looking for basketball first. But the NHL never came calling officially and when Katrina took place, OKC was the only city in the region with a pro-level arena empty in a market big enough to support a team - although there was questions if that would even take place. People were worried the Hornets would draw 7,500 a night for no-name teams and only sell out for the Lakers, Spurs, Mavs, etc. But from the start, the place was sold out and both years of the Hornets saw giant crowds.
By that time, this market, a football first, second and fourth market, was in love with Chris Paul and the Hornets. But they went back to New Orleans. That one season without the NBA was torture for The City, so once the Thunder arrived we instantly latched onto KD and Westbrook. And that first team was terrible, to the tune of 20-62 or something like that. Even so, we loved them from the start.
So yes, I can see a lot of similarities between OKC and Winnipeg when it comes to being a one-sport town all-in with its team. All you used to see in OKC was OU and OSU stuff and Dallas Cowboys too. Now? I'd say Thunder clothes are sighted about 50 percent of the time when it comes to sports clothing worn in OKC. And I'm talking year-round. The Thunder have given OKC an identity and the team has become a family member to most, including me.
Now, 10 years of 30-win seasons would make it hard to show up to games, but aside from a mystical few spots, that would be the case anywhere. But that's not likely an issue for us for another 10 years, as Durant and Westbrook have both re-upped for long-term deals and want to win here, together. We'll see what the future holds, but OKC is definitely Thundered-out just as Winnipeg is Jetsed-out.
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