Proposed improvements to The Peake would bring OKC closer to other NBA arenas
Walk into any NBA arena and the sight is unmistakable.
As the league moved into the 2010s, the jumbo-size video board became synonymous with the game experience. What started with AT&T Stadium in Dallas, the home of the NFL’s Cowboys, spread across sports. No arena or stadium — college or professional — was complete without a massive screen.
Well, not all arenas. In 2019, you can now count on one hand the number of arenas running on outdated technology. Chesapeake Energy Arena is one.
“The reality is we built a bare bones arena in 2002,” Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt told The Oklahoman. “So, in 2008, our community made a commitment to upgrade the arena so it would be suitable as a long-term home to the Thunder.”
With technology and event amenities rapidly evolving around the country, the upgrades to Chesapeake Energy Arena proposed by the MAPS 4 program are necessary for the arena to keep up with the times.
“We have all been witness to what a game changer the MAPS downtown arena has been for our city,” Holt said. “It is unquestionable that the arena has made an almost priceless impact on our city’s image and our economy.”
He said the arrival of professional sports and top-level concerts to Oklahoma City wouldn’t have been possible without the arena.
“The significance of MAPS for our city is monumental and, quite frankly, I don't think we'd be sitting here without the people that envisioned MAPS initially and the citizens that voted for it in order to create a better long-term outlook for Oklahoma City,” Thunder general manager Sam Presti said in September. “I am obviously a transplant from a different place, but even I understand the significance of that period of time for this city.”
Built in 2002 for less than $90 million as a centerpiece of the MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects) program, Chesapeake Energy Arena was obsolete before it was completed. While the arena has hosted major concert series and been the home of the Oklahoma City Thunder since 2008, a span of 17 years is a good life for most event venues. It’s a lifetime for one built with limited amenities from the onset because of cost concerns.
Consider the 30 NBA franchises and their homes. Of the 29 arenas, 27 cost more than Chesapeake Energy Arena to build, not including multimillion-dollar renovations in subsequent years. This season, the Golden State Warriors will start play in the $1.4-billion Chase Center in San Francisco.
The catch is the Chase Center was constructed with only private funds, something Warriors president Rick Welts told businessinsider.com he wouldn’t recommend. Welts said the Warriors wanted public funding, but the city of San Francisco wouldn’t allow it.
Welts also said the Warriors stumbled into the perfect storm of a booming economy in San Francisco, land available at the right time, and having a successful, must-see team. Every other NBA team has required at least some public funding for its arena.
The $115 million project budget being requested for Chesapeake Energy Arena and the Thunder’s practice facility is the second largest of the MAPS 4 project budgets behind Parks ($140 million). Since 1993, the phases of MAPS have been driven by public taxes.
Holt, however, said since the citizens own Chesapeake Energy Arena — not the tenants like the Chase Center — it’s the city’s obligation to keep the arena up to national standards. It’s been 11 years since the last initiative of $121.6 million was passed by citizens to upgrade “The Peake” and the Thunder’s practice facility,
In comparison, the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, which houses the NHL’s Flyers and NBA’s 76ers, is in the midst of a $250 million renovation named “Transformation 2020,” which includes numerous upgrades including the scoreboard, main terrace and suites.
Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland is undergoing a $185 million renovation, $115 million of which is being funded privately.
Earlier this year, the Phoenix City Council approved a $230 million renovation for Talking Stick Resort Arena, with $150 million coming from taxpayers.
“By the end of MAPS 4, it would be two decades (since construction),” Holt said. The Thunder’s lease with the arena runs through 2023.
“We shouldn’t go to that negotiating table with an arena that is below national standards. To maintain our relationships with entities like the NBA or major concert promoters, we have to offer a facility that meets national standards. And MAPS is the vehicle to do that.”
NBA arenas at a glance
The NBA’s 30 arenas, when they opened, what it cost to build them, and how much has been spent in renovations (if applicable). The arenas are listed from most to least expensive
Arena (team);;Year Opened;;Cost;;Renovations
1. Chase Center (Golden State Warriors);;2019;;$1.4 billion;;
2. Barclays Center (Brooklyn Nets);;2012;;$1 billion;;
3. Little Caesars Arena (Detroit Pistons);;2017;;$862.9 million;;
4. Golden 1 Center (Sacramento Kings);;2016;;$558.2 million;;
5. Fiserv Forum (Milwaukee Bucks);;2018;;$524 million;;
6. Amway Center (Orlando Magic);;2010;;$480 million;;
7. American Airlines Center (Dallas Mavericks);;2001;;$420 million;;
8. Staples Center (Los Angeles Lakers/LA Clippers);;1999;;$375 million;;scoreboard in 2010
9. Scotiabank Arena (Toronto Raptors);;1999;;$265 million;;multiple since 2003
10. Moda Center (Portland Trail Blazers);;1995;;$262 million;;$13 million (2007)
11. Capital One Arena (Washington Wizards);;1997;;$260 million;;
12. Spectrum Center (Charlotte Hornets);;2005;;$260 million;;$34 million
13. FedEx Forum (Memphis Grizzlies);;2004;;$250 million;;multiple since 2012
14. Toyota Center (Houston Rockets);;2003;;$235 million;;
15. State Farm Arena (Atlanta Hawks);;1999;;$213.5 million;;2017-18
16. American Airlines Arena (Miami Heat);;1999;;$213 million;;
17. Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia 76ers);;1996;;$210 million;;$250 million
18. Pepsi Center (Denver Nuggets);;1999;;$187 million;;
19. AT&T Center (San Antonio Spurs);;2002;;$186 million;;$101.5 million
20. Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indiana Pacers;;1999;;$183 million;;
21. United Center (Chicago Bulls);;1994;;$175 million;;multiple since 2009
22. TD Garden (Boston Celtics);;1995;;$160 million;;multiple since 2006
23. Madison Square Garden (New York Knicks);;1968;;$123 million;;$200 million (1991), $1 billion (2011-13)
24. Smoothie King Center (New Orleans Pelicans);;1999;;$114 million;;multiple since 2006
25. Target Center (Minnesota Timberwolves);;1990;;$104 million;;more than $300 million
26. Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse (Cleveland Cavaliers);;1994;;$100 million;;$185 million
27. Vivint Smart Home Arena (Utah Jazz);;1991;;$90 million;;multiple since 2002
28. Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City Thunder);;2002;;$89.2 million;;$103.5 million
29. Talking Stick Resort Arena (Phoenix Suns);;1992;;$89 million;;$67 million (2003), $230 million.