Editorial: A yes vote for OKC’s arena keeps us going in the right direction

Editorial: A yes vote for OKC’s arena keeps us going in the right direction

OKC’s journey with the NBA has been part of a MAPS-powered transformation, so let’s keep going, writes Sellout Crowd founder Mike Koehler

Mike Koehler

By Mike Koehler

| Dec 11, 2023, 6:00am CST

Mike Koehler

By Mike Koehler

Dec 11, 2023, 6:00am CST

It was a few years ago, and the Thunder was still new to Oklahoma City. The team was playing a home game during Christmas break, but an ice storm had just rolled through, and expectations were that the then-Ford Center would be pretty empty. 

Maybe it was the warmth of the holiday season or the fact that my kids had fallen head over heels for the new team, but we all piled into the car and drove (very carefully) downtown. Tickets were easy to get, and we had a great time. The memory pops up on Facebook, and there we sit smiling in our coats, gloves and Thunder blue stocking caps. 

I can’t put a price on that memory or the times I’ve spent on the sofa cheering on the team or crying over Kevin Durant. The Thunder has been woven into our family’s lives for over a decade. 

That’s why I’m voting yes on Tuesday to fund a new arena, not just for the team but for our community. And that’s why Sellout Crowd encourages all voters in Oklahoma City to do the same.

The arguments thrown back and forth about this vote have been frustrating. Some are uninformed, some are short-sighted, and we could spend a lot of bandwidth going point by point against them.

But let’s stick to the basics. I moved to Oklahoma City in the fall of 2000. I didn’t know that in the 1990s, the first MAPS had passed, and underneath my feet had been planted the seeds of a transformation. 

The stewardship of those projects and subsequent MAPS votes have always impressed me. For all of the red-state bluster in these parts, the fact that a tax-powered, public-private investment has pumped life into our city shows what happens when a government and its people have a vision. It works. 

This community has given me the infrastructure and hope to start my own business twice. I’ve always expected the future around here to get brighter because of how many others have been invigorated by Oklahoma City’s Renaissance. 

To turn away from that track record now seems a fool’s errand. Because we can’t get everything we want, is it better to have nothing? Oklahoma City has problems that need solving. We need to continue to improve in many ways and can do that by strengthening our connections and finding common ground. 

Torpedoing, one of the most important things that unites us is wrong and creates a void that can’t be refilled.

On the other side of this vote will be an arena that is an asset for the community. 

We, the people, will own it and be entertained by our rent-paying NBA tenants 40 or 50 (or hopefully more) times per year. It’ll open the door to other events that appeal to the width and breadth of our diverse state: Monster truck rallies, baby boomer Rock and Roll Hall of Famers, hip-hop legends, bubble gum pop stars, faith-fueled preachers trying to change lives and that metal band a teenager loves because it gives them some solace in a tough life.

I’ve heard enough about how we have to vote no because this only benefits “them.”

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Mike Koehler is the founder of Sellout Crowd. Mike spent more than 15 years in journalism before starting Smirk New Media, a digital marketing agency, in 2010. Mike is a graduate of Missouri State University and lives in Oklahoma City with his wife Gaylee and three kids. Mike can be found on social media at @mkokc on Twitter and most everything else.

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