Many Oklahoma City Thunder fans know that the team’s history originates in Seattle and only later the squad moved and found its new home in Oklahoma to the delight of local basketball fans.
The main prerequisite for the team’s move was the unresolved issue with the outdated home stadium Key Arena in Seattle. Let’s find out more about what exactly made the squad relocate and change its name.
The Main Reason for the Team’s Move
The Seattle SuperSonics team that would become known as the Oklahoma City Thunder was originally based at the Key Arena in Seattle. This stadium was built in 1962. NBA commissioner David Stern, after the reconstruction of the arena in 1995, said that the stadium meets all modern standards and Oklahoma residents can be proud of the local sport’s attraction.
Years passed and the standards and demands of the audience changed. Due to the rapidly growing popularity of basketball in the United States and the development of the sports and entertainment industry, by 2000 Key Arena had lost its prestige and began to bear the title of the smallest and most outdated NBA stadium in the entire United States. The stadium could not accommodate everyone and ticket sales did not pay off the maintenance of the crew.
Special Commission and Litigation
Due to the current situation, in 2004, the Seattle Basketball Club, which was the owner of the Seattle Supersonics, assembled a commission led by Howard Schultz to assess the degree of compliance of the arena with modern requirements and determine how much funds are needed for the reconstruction of the stadium. One of the members of the commission was already familiar to us commissioner David Stern, who gave high marks to the arena in 1995. It was assumed that sectors for fans and VIP boxes would be expanded, modern restaurants and shops would be built. The cost of the proposed reconstruction was $200 million.
The main impediment to allocating money from the budget for the reconstruction of the stadium was the organization “Seattle Citizens for More Important Things” and the international union of service personnel. The participants of these organizations voted against the allocation of funds on a non-refundable basis in a general referendum in Seattle, which did not allow the reconstruction to be carried out according to the plan.
In 2006, after failing to find local investors, Howard Schultz sold the Seattle SuperSonics to the Professional Basketball Club. The head of the Seattle Professional Basketball Club, Clayton Bennet, asked the Senate to build a modern basketball stadium instead of renovating the existing arena, but this attempt was also unsuccessful. Together, Schultz and Bennet tried to keep the team within Oklahoma, but local authorities refused to make concessions. On November 2, 2007, the owners of the club announced that the crew would migrate to Oklahoma, thus provoking new legal proceedings. The City of Seattle sought to keep the team in-state until the end of the lease in 2010.
Relocation Decision and Preparation of a New Home Stadium
Years of litigation ended with the fact that in April 2008, a meeting of the owners of the NBA was held, at which it was decided to relocate the club from Seattle to Oklahoma.
The people of Oklahoma gladly accepted this initiative and by voting it was decided to allocate 120 million dollars for the reconstruction of the Ford Center stadium and the construction of an up-to-date training facility for athletes. Upon completion of the reconstruction, the Ford Center could accommodate more than 20,000 fans and met all modern standards.
The squad made its move in September 2008 and received a new name Oklahoma City Thunder, a new uniform, and a new home stadium.
Despite the difficulties faced by the squad and its management in connection with the move, the basketball team was able to rebuild and start their journey to new victories in a new place, delighting the basketball fans from Oklahoma.