This piece from over the weekend got me thinking. Basically, it’s this: Oklahoma City residents approved a tax increase in 2008 that would pay for arena upgrades and a new practice facility, should an NBA team happen to relocate here (wink, wink).
Well, one did. And for three years, that NBA team has happily occupied the arena while upgrades went on and a new practice facility was built. All of this cost some $93.1 million and is still ongoing as Chesapeake Arena continues with its renovation right now.
Taxpayers obviously approved this with the expectation that they were essentially paying for an NBA team to play in an improved arena. Don’t approve it and there would be a chance that NBA team would look elsewhere. But now, as Michael Kimball said in his story, “Oklahoma City faces the prospect of a season without the headline tenant residents counted on when they approved taxing themselves to pay for it.” It’s pretty obvious that a season without Thunder basketball will hit downtown Oklahoma City pretty hard economically and to further the kick in the pants, we’re paying taxes for something that might not be needed, at least for a year. Ouch.
Which made me wonder: If a league-imposed lockout causes the Thunder to miss an entire season, do the residents of Oklahoma City who are paying for an arena and practice facility thinking they get to watch their favorite team in it, have a class-action case against the NBA? Or the Thunder? Or someone?