Oklahoma City Blue had played its home games in previous years at Cox Convention Center, but with the sale of the facility, a return there is not possible. Oklahoma City Thunder Sam Presti wants to keep the Blue at Paycom Center, but says it’s likely the team will need to find a new home for the 2022-2023 G League season, per NBA mandates. Keeping the Blue at Paycom Center may be convenient for the Thunder, but dampens any potential revenues for a team playing many day games because of scheduling priorities. From SI.com:
“Yes, [the proximity helps] absolutely. We have a challenge on our hands because the NBA, or the G League, doesn’t want us playing in our arena next year. You know, conversation probably not for the public, but like it is an NBA arena, so it should be good enough for the G League. But, I don’t get into that.
To me, development is about players. It’s about what’s best for the players. We have NBA facilities, everyone loves playing in our facilities, the hotel is right there. I understand the G League has a view on how they want to be perceived, but I wouldn’t want to sacrifice the environment for our players because we don’t have enough people in the stands. I get it. We’re trying to get more people in there for G League games if that’s the key. But the G League is for development and to help our parent team be ready for that. That’s how I look at it – I’ll fill you in once we know exactly how that’s going to go.”
Presti’s comments shows the inherent tensions in G League operations. On the one hand, Presti is clearly viewing the Blue as a development squad whose needs are secondary to the parent team’s needs. But we’ve seen a shift in recent years as to how league officials view the dual mandates for G League teams: yes, they are an important development tool, but increasingly teams are expected to be solid financial endeavors and serve markets and a fan base not served by the NBA, extending a parent team’s market reach. Oklahoma City has chosen to stress proximity over expanding the market reason into, say, Tulsa or Amarillo, so we’ll see where the team ends up this coming G League season.