Oklahoma City to vote on arena to keep Thunder through 2050

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma City Council voted Tuesday to set a Dec. 12 citywide vote on a proposed 1% sales tax for six years that would fund a new $900 million downtown arena and keep the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder in the city through at least 2050.

The council also voted 7-2 to approve a letter of intent with the Thunder's ownership group that would require the group to contribute $50 million toward the arena's cost. The deal also calls for $70 million in city funds from an existing sales tax approved by voters in 2019 for upgrades to the current Paycom Center.

"I commend the Council for authorizing me to sign this historic letter of intent, I thank the Thunder for their partnership and I congratulate all of OKC for getting to this point," Mayor David Holt said in a statement.

Under the plan, the six-year, 1% sales tax would begin April 1, 2028, when the current MAPS 4 sales tax ends so the city's sales tax rate would remain unchanged. The exact location of the new arena has not been determined, but the deal calls for the arena to open in time for the 2029-2030 NBA season.

Council members Nikki Nice and JoBeth Hamon opposed both the proposed sales tax and the letter of intent with the Thunder owners.

"This deal was negotiated from a position of fear and scarcity, which benefits those who are wealthy, while the benefits never trickle down to regular folks," Hamon wrote on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

The NBA franchise -- which used to be the Seattle SuperSonics -- moved to Oklahoma City in 2008.