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City, Thunder shift gears to talk of new Oklahoma City arena

Instead of continuing discussions on a renovation of Paycom Center, the city and the Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA) are entering talks about a new Oklahoma City arena.

The Thunder is entering the late stages of a lease running through 2023, but previous discussions had tied a lease extension to arena upgrades, even reaching the point in March where a deal was announced. Since then, however, there has been reconsideration of the plan, with the realization that the price tag for a renovation would go a long ways toward a new arena.

Now, a new arena is not a lock: the two sides are putting renovations on hold while exploring the economics of a new arena. Construction on several initial projects was scheduled to start this year with new 300-level seats and elevators. Further upgrades scheduled for 2023 include new seating, a new scoreboard, enhanced 300-level concession areas and signature bar, and further technology and infrastructure improvements. To avoid disruptions to major events and the NBA schedule, additional upgrades will be completed through a multi-year approach, with renovations anticipated through 2028. 

Paycom Center opened in 2002 before the move of the Seattle Sonics for the 2008-2009 season, but did host the New Orleans Hornets in 2005 due to Hurricane Katrina. It is in middle age when it comes to NBA arenas, and is the smallest with usable 586,000 square feet.

RELATED STORIES: Paycom Center upgrades move forward; New for 2021-2022: Paycom Center; MAPS 4 Proposal with Chesapeake Energy Arena Renovation Funds Advances; Potential Chesapeake Energy Arena Renovations Discussed

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