Chesapeake Energy Arena

Last updated
Chesapeake Energy Arena
"Loud City"
"The Thunderdome"
"The Peake"
Chesapeake Energy Arena logo 2017.png
Chesapeake Energy Arena 2017.jpg
Chesapeake Energy Arena during the 2017–2018 NBA season.
USA Oklahoma location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Chesapeake Energy Arena
Location in Oklahoma
Usa edcp relief location map.png
Red pog.svg
Chesapeake Energy Arena
Location in the United States
Former names Ford Center (2002–2010)
Oklahoma City Arena (2010–2011)
Address100 West Reno Avenue
Location Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Coordinates 35°27′48″N97°30′54″W / 35.46333°N 97.51500°W / 35.46333; -97.51500 Coordinates: 35°27′48″N97°30′54″W / 35.46333°N 97.51500°W / 35.46333; -97.51500
Public transit BSicon LOGO Amtrak2.svg Heartland Flyer
BSicon TRAM1.svg OKC Streetcar Arena
Owner City of Oklahoma City
Operator SMG
Capacity Basketball: 18,203
Hockey: 15,152
Concerts: 16,591
WWE/Boxing/MMA: 16,757
Broke groundMay 11, 1999 [1]
OpenedJune 8, 2002
Construction costUS$89.2 million
Architect The Benham Companies, LLC.
Sink Combs Dethlefs
Services engineerM-E Engineers, Inc. [2]
General contractor Flintco Construction Co. [3]
Oklahoma City Blazers (CHL) (2002–2009)
Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz (af2) (2004–2008)
New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets (NBA) (20052007)
Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA) (2008present)

Chesapeake Energy Arena, originally known as the Ford Center from 2002 to 2010 and Oklahoma City Arena until 2011, is an arena located in Downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States. It opened in 2002 and since 2008 has served as the home venue for the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s Oklahoma City Thunder. Previously, the arena was home to the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League (CHL) from 2002 until the team folded in July 2009, and the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz of AF2 from 2004 to 2009 when the team moved to the Cox Convention Center. In addition to its use as a sports venue, Chesapeake Energy Arena hosts concerts, family and social events, conventions, ice shows, and civic events. The arena is owned by the city and operated by the SMG property management company and has 18,203 seats in the basketball configuration, 15,152 for hockey, and can seat up to 16,591 for concerts. [4]


From 2005 to 2007 the arena also served as the temporary home for the New Orleans Hornets of the NBA when the Hornets were forced to play games elsewhere following extensive damage to New Orleans Arena and the city of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. During the two seasons in Oklahoma City, the team was known as the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. The response from fans while the Hornets played in Oklahoma City was an impetus to the city being discussed prior to 2008 as a future NBA team, either by relocation or expansion.


The Ford Center was owned by Oklahoma City and was opened on June 8, 2002, three years after construction began. [5] The original Ford Center name came from a naming rights deal with the Oklahoma Ford Dealers group which represented the marketing efforts of the state's Ford dealerships, rather than the Ford Motor Company itself. [6]

The facility was the premier component of the city's 1993 Capital Improvement Program, known as Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS), which financed new and upgraded sports, entertainment, cultural, and convention facilities primarily in the downtown section with a temporary 1-cent sales tax assessed. Despite the "metropolitan" moniker of the improvement program, the tax was only assessed inside city limits. [5]

Originally billed and marketed as a "state-of-the-art" facility, Oklahoma City Arena was actually constructed to minimum NBA and NHL specifications. The arena was built without luxury amenities because of local concerns on expenditures on an arena without a major-league tenant, with the ability to create "buildout" amenities and improvements to the arena if a professional sports team announced it would relocate to the city.

A plan for such buildout improvements began in 2007 in the wake of acquisition of the Seattle SuperSonics by an Oklahoma-City based ownership group in October 2006. Originally, city officials had hoped to include Oklahoma City Arena buildout improvements as part of a planned 2009 "MAPS 3" initiative. However, given the impending relocation decision of the Sonics ownership group in late 2007, the City Council of Oklahoma City placed a sales tax initiative on the city election ballot on March 4, 2008. [7] This initiative was passed by a 62% to 38% margin, and extended a prior one-cent sales tax for a period of 15 months in order to fund $121 million in budgeted improvements to the arena, as well as fund a separate practice facility for a relocated franchise. [7]

Subsequent to the ballot initiative, City officials and Sonics ownership announced a preliminary agreement to move the Sonics franchise to Oklahoma City and the Ford Center. The deal included a provision for $1.6 million in annual rents to the City for use of the Ford Center (including marketing rights of luxury seating areas for all NBA and most non-NBA events), and a $409,000 annual supplemental payment in exchange for a transfer of arena naming rights and associated revenue to the Sonics franchise. [8] The franchise move was approved by NBA ownership on April 18, 2008. [8]

Seating capacity

Basketball seating capacity at the arena has adjusted with the venue configuration:


Current name

Chesapeake Energy Arena logo, 2011-2017. Chesapeake Energy Arena Logo.png
Chesapeake Energy Arena logo, 2011–2017.

On August 26, 2010, the franchise, by then renamed the Oklahoma City Thunder, announced that they had begun negotiating naming rights to its home arena with new potential partners. The facility was called the Ford Center and signage throughout the building remained intact during the negotiation period. [6] The Thunder previously had discussions with the Oklahoma Ford Dealers; however, a new agreement could not be reached. [6] As a result of the failed negotiation with the Oklahoma Ford Dealers, the Thunder decided to terminate the existing naming rights agreement, which was allowed under the original contract. [6] On October 21, 2010, because of the ongoing negotiation for the naming rights for the arena, and because of its failed negotiation with the Oklahoma Ford Dealers, it was announced that the arena would be called the Oklahoma City Arena. The new name was used temporarily until naming rights were settled. [9]

On July 22, 2011, a 12-year naming rights partnership was announced, the partnership between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chesapeake Energy Corporation to rename the arena Chesapeake Energy Arena. [10] The agreement between Chesapeake and the Thunder has an initial annual cost of $3 million with a 3% annual escalation. [10] Included in the agreement Chesapeake had its branding throughout the building, prominent premium placement on the high-definition scoreboard, and on new state-of-the-art interior and exterior digital signs. Most of the new signs were in place before the start of the Thunder's 2011–12 season. [10]

Arena information

The 581,000-square-foot (54,000 m2) facility seats up to 19,711 on three seating levels with a fourth added during concerts and features 3,380 club seats, seven party suites, and 49 private suites. It is located immediately across the street from the Cox Convention Center, a marketing point often used by city officials (since Cox Center itself has a 15,000-seat arena). It also features The OLD NO. 7 Club, a full service restaurant and bar. Several other exclusive dining options are also available at The Pub, a 1,576-square-foot (146.4 m2) "Irish Pub" themed bar, and at The Courtside Club, a 6,198-square-foot (575.8 m2) restaurant and lounge area, as well as at the Victory Club, Sunset Carvery, and the new Terrace Lounges.


On March 4, 2008, the citizens of Oklahoma City passed a $121.6 million initiative designed to renovate and expand the Chesapeake Energy Arena and to build a practice facility for the relocated Seattle SuperSonics team which is now known as the Oklahoma City Thunder. Financing consists of a temporary 15-month, 1-cent sales tax that will be paid by Oklahoma City residents and shoppers beginning January 1, 2009.

The city held the temporary tax initiative in March 2008 to facilitate the relocation of the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics or another relocation franchise. It is expected that the refurbishment will turn the Chesapeake Energy Arena into a top-tier NBA facility.

Some of the planned upgrades to the Chesapeake Energy Arena include upscale restaurants, clubs, additional suites (including so-called 'bunker suites'), office space, Kid's Zone, additional concessions, flooring upgrades, an integrated video and scoring system from Daktronics, view lounges, and upgraded 'general use' locker rooms. [11] NBA specific amenities include 'NBA ONLY' locker rooms and facilities, a practice court, media broadcast facilities, lighting, and sound, an NBA press room, an onsite NBA and team store, and ticket/staff rooms. [12] It is anticipated that the Oklahoma City Thunder team will lease the new office space.

Renovation work on the arena was delayed due to a sales tax receipt shortfall during the 2008–10 economic crisis; eventual tax receipts totaled $103.5 million rather than the projected $121 million. [13] The shortfall was accommodated by revising plans for certain features of the arena expansion project, including limiting the size of a new glass entryway, and eliminating a practice court planned for above the delivery entrance of the arena. [14] Major construction work on the arena expansion was also delayed from the summer of 2010 to the summer of 2011. Similar revisions were made to the plans for the Thunder's separate practice facility, for a total cost savings of approximately $14 million. [15] The Thunder's practice facility completion date was similarly pushed back to approximately March 2011. [16]


The Chesapeake Energy Arena hosts a number of games and events from Oklahoma City University, the University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University along with those from local high schools and post-secondary organizations. It is also used for other events, including major concert tours, conventions, National Hockey League preseason and exhibition games, and notably professional wrestling shows.

College Sports

It hosted the 2007 Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament for the first time in 2007 (with the 2007 Big 12 Women's Basketball Tournament held across the street at Cox Convention Center). The venue has hosted the NCAA Men's Basketball First and Second Round on several occasions (including 2010 and 2016) and is the permanent host of the All-College Basketball Classic. It hosted the 2009 Big 12 Conference Men's Basketball Tournament. In March 2014, the arena played host to the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships.


New Orleans Hornets

After the city of New Orleans, and surrounding area was devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the NBA reached a deal with the City of Oklahoma City which allowed the New Orleans Hornets franchise to temporarily move to the Chesapeake Energy Arena (then known as the Ford Center). The New Orleans Hornets leased the facility for the 2005–06 season and exercised the option with the city to extend for the 2006–07 season. The arena acquired a $200,000 renovation (primarily to lighting and sound) as part of the Hornets' lease. During this time, the team was known as the "New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets", giving Oklahoma City credit for hosting the 'home team'. [17] The Hornets played their last game in Oklahoma City on October 9, 2007, a preseason game. [18]

The hosting of the Hornets arguably gave Oklahoma City the edge it needed to land on the radar of professional sports. Long being considered by many as too small to host a major-league team for a variety of reasons, support for the Hornets during their two-year stay caught the attention of the NBA and other sports leagues. Attendance for Hornets games at the Chesapeake Energy Arena averaged 18,716 fans in 2005–06 (36 games) and 17,951 fans (35 games) in 2006–07. David Stern was quoted as stating that "Oklahoma City was at the top of the relocation list of cities" and during the Hornets' last home game he all but assured local fans that "I look forward to the day that the NBA will return to Oklahoma City." [19]

Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City hosted and defeated Minnesota for their first win. OKC Thunder.JPG
Oklahoma City hosted and defeated Minnesota for their first win.

Oklahoma City billionaire investor Clay Bennett of the Professional Basketball Club LLC purchased the Seattle SuperSonics and Seattle Storm franchises from Howard Schultz in 2006. The deal included a provision that gave Seattle officials one year to solve its arena situation or allow Bennett to seek relocation.

After an April 2008 league approval, it was announced on July 2, 2008 that the Sonics franchise would be relocating to Oklahoma City and would play at what was then the Ford Center. [20] The agreement retires the "SuperSonics" moniker, color, and logos, possibly to be used by a future NBA team in Seattle. On September 2, 2008, the team announced they would be called the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder have been a playoff mainstay since arriving in Oklahoma. Chesapeake Energy Arena hosted playoff games every year between 2010 and 2014, as well as 2016. In 2012, the arena became host of the NBA Finals for the only time to date, when the Thunder went up against the Miami Heat for the league championship. The Thunder won Game 1 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in convincing fashion, but lost the last four games and the championship to the Heat.

On March 11, 2020, a game between the Thunder and the Utah Jazz that was to be held at the arena was initially postponed after Jazz center Rudy Gobert was placed on the injury list due to an illness. After it was learned that Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, the NBA announced that the remainder of the 2019–20 season would be suspended immediately following the conclusion of that night's games. This incident would eventually result in the cancellation of all sports events throughout North America and the rest of the world, as the COVID-19 outbreak had been declared as a pandemic by WHO earlier that day.

MMA & Pro Wrestling

The arena has hosted many WWE events such as Raw, SmackDown, and Unforgiven 2005. Raw came to the Chesapeake Energy Arena on September 25, 2006 and March 1, 2010 with Cheech & Chong appearing as the evening's guest hosts. During the show on September 25, 2006, the opening of the show suffered a blackout, but lights were restored shortly after the night began.

On September 16, 2009, the Ultimate Fighting Championship returned to Oklahoma [21] for the first time since UFC 4, which was at the Expo Square Pavilion in Tulsa on December 16, 1994. A mixed martial arts event returned to the arena on January 12, 2013 with the Strikeforce: Champions event. [22]

Other events

The PBR has held an event at the Chesapeake Energy Arena annually since 2002. Its premier bull riding tour, the Built Ford Tough Series (known as the Bud Light Cup until 2002), has occupied the Chesapeake Energy Arena from 2002–2006 and again in 2009 and each year since. In 2007 and 2008, the PBR held their Challenger Tour finals here. Prior to 2002, the PBR's BFTS tour event was held at the Oklahoma State Fair Arena.

The 2015 North American Youth Congress (NAYC) of the United Pentecostal Church was held in the arena. The event sold out and the Cox Convention Center across the street used as overflow with video streamed from across the street.

Related Research Articles

New Orleans Pelicans American professional basketball team based in New Orleans, Louisiana

The New Orleans Pelicans are an American professional basketball team based in New Orleans. The Pelicans compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Western Conference Southwest Division. The team plays their home games in the Smoothie King Center.

KeyArena Sports arena in Seattle, Washington, United States

The New Arena at Seattle Center, formerly known also as KeyArena after a previous naming rights sponsorship, is a multi-purpose arena in Seattle, Washington, that is currently under redevelopment. It is located north of downtown in the 74-acre (30 ha) entertainment complex known as Seattle Center, the site of the 1962 World's Fair, the Century 21 Exposition. It was used for entertainment purposes, such as concerts, ice shows, circuses, and sporting events. The redeveloped arena, currently estimated to cost $900 to $930 million, is anticipated to open in June 2021.

Oklahoma City Blue American professional basketball team of the NBA G League

The Oklahoma City Blue are an NBA G League team based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the minor league affiliate of the Oklahoma City Thunder. The franchise began as the Asheville Altitude in 2001, before moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2005 and becoming the Tulsa 66ers. After nine seasons in Tulsa, the franchise moved to Oklahoma City in 2014 and were subsequently renamed the Oklahoma City Blue.

Sam Presti is an American basketball executive. On June 7, 2007, Presti was hired as the general manager of the Seattle SuperSonics, who later relocated and became the Oklahoma City Thunder. In the summer of 2010, the team extended his contract.

Seattle SuperSonics Professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington, US 1967–2008

The Seattle SuperSonics, commonly known as the Sonics, were an American professional basketball team based in Seattle, Washington. The SuperSonics played in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member club of the league's Western Conference Pacific and Northwest divisions from 1967 until 2008. After the 2007–08 season ended, the team relocated to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and now plays as the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City NBA franchise relocation

The Seattle SuperSonics relocation to Oklahoma City was a successful effort by the ownership group of the Seattle SuperSonics to relocate the team from Seattle, Washington to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The team began play as the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2008–09 NBA season, after becoming the third National Basketball Association (NBA) franchise to relocate in the 2000s.

The Oklahoma City Thunder played its inaugural season in the 2008–09 NBA season. It was the team's 1st season in Oklahoma City since the Seattle SuperSonics relocation was approved by league owners prior to settling a lawsuit. The team played at the Ford Center.

Clayton Ike Bennett is an American businessman and chairman of the Professional Basketball Club LLC, the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder, an NBA franchise formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics. Bennett is the chairman of Oklahoma City-based Dorchester Capital Corporation, as well as the chairman emeritus of the board of directors of the Oklahoma Heritage Association and served as chairman of the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma from 2011–2019.

Oklahoma City Thunder Professional basketball team based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

The Oklahoma City Thunder are an American professional basketball team based in Oklahoma City. The Thunder competes in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Western Conference Northwest Division. The team plays its home games at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Professional Basketball Club LLC is an investment group headed by Clay Bennett that owns the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s Oklahoma City Thunder franchise and the Thunder's NBA G League affiliate Oklahoma City Blue. The group also owned the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA)'s Seattle Storm franchise from 2006 to 2008. The PBC then sold the Storm to local Seattle owners, before moving the SuperSonics to Oklahoma City.

The Sawyer Center, named for Carl Brannon Sawyer, is the main athletic facility for Southern Nazarene University (SNU) and seats over 5,000. It is used for basketball and volleyball games played by the Southern Nazarene Crimson Storm. In addition to sporting events, the Sawyer Center also hosts all commencement, the New Student Institute for welcome week activities, and high school tournaments.

Effect of Hurricane Katrina on the New Orleans Hornets

Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, Louisiana on August 29, 2005, and caused extensive damage to the New Orleans Arena. As a result, the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s New Orleans Hornets were unable to play any home games at the Arena for both the entire 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons, and temporarily relocated to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to become the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets. After playing the majority of home games for both the 2005–06 and 2006–07 seasons at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, the Hornets returned to New Orleans for the 2007–08 season.

Western Conference (NBA) conference of the National Basketball Association

The Western Conference of the National Basketball Association (NBA) is one of two conferences that makes up the association, the other being the Eastern Conference. Like the Eastern Conference, the Western Conference is made up of 15 teams, organized in three divisions.

The 2006–07 New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets season was the team's 5th in the NBA. The Hornets split their games between the New Orleans Arena and the Ford Center, playing the majority of their schedule in Oklahoma City as they had in the previous season. The Hornets improved by one win, finishing 39-43, but failed to reach the playoffs.

The New Orleans Pelicans are a professional basketball team in the National Basketball Association. Until the conclusion of the 2012–13 season, the team was named the New Orleans Hornets. The name change came along with the purchase of the team by its new owner, Tom Benson. Early on in the purchasing process, Benson made it clear that he intended to change the name to something more "local". Inspiration for the name change is given to Louisiana's state bird, the brown pelican. The Pelicans have an overall franchise record of 498–552, along with six playoff qualifications. Their achievements include one playoff series victory and one division title.

Sports in Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City is home to several professional sports teams, including the Oklahoma City Thunder of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The Thunder is the city's second "permanent" major professional sports franchise after the now-defunct AFL Oklahoma Wranglers and is the third major-league team to call the city home when considering the temporary hosting of the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets for the 2005–06 and 2006–07 NBA seasons.

The Oklahoma City Thunder are an American professional basketball team based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They were established in 2008 when the Sonics left Seattle.

The expansion of the National Basketball Association has happened several times in the league's history since it began play in 1946. The most recent instances of league expansion are the additions of the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat in 1988, and the Minnesota Timberwolves and Orlando Magic in 1989, the two Canadian expansion teams in 1995, and the New Orleans Pelicans in 2002.


  1. Lackmeyer, Steve (May 12, 1999). "Company to Manage Both Downtown Arenas". The Oklahoman . Oklahoma City. Retrieved February 24, 2012.
  2. "Ford Center Oklahoma City, Oklahoma". M-E Engineers, Inc. Archived from the original on March 16, 2008. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  3. "What's on Deck". SportsBusiness Journal. July 30, 2001. Retrieved September 22, 2011.
  4. "Chesapeake Energy Arena - Fast Facts - Capacities" . Retrieved April 13, 2017.
  5. 1 2 "Overview". Ford Center. Archived from the original on October 27, 2009. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Rohde, John (August 26, 2010). "Ford Center Name to Change". The Oklahoman . Oklahoma City. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
  7. 1 2 Knapp, Adam. "Ford Center Arena Improvement Plan". Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  8. 1 2 DiTore, Larry (April 18, 2008). "NBA Owners Approve SuperSonics' Move to Oklahoma". Bloomberg. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  9. "Ford Center Is Now The Oklahoma City Arena". KOCO. Oklahoma City. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2010.
  10. 1 2 3 "OKC Arena to be Renamed Chesapeake Energy Arena". Oklahoma City Thunder. July 21, 2011. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  11. "New Scoreboard Designed with Fans in Mind". Oklahoma City Thunder. June 1, 2009. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  12. "Voters Approve $121.6 Million in Arena Upgrades to Lure NBA Team". ESPN. Associated Press. March 5, 2008. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  13. "MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board Presentation" (PDF). City of Oklahoma City. August 24, 2010. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 11, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  14. Rohde, John (August 8, 2010). "Ford Center Practice Gym Eliminated from Renovations". The Oklahoman . Oklahoma City. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  15. Baldwin, Mike (July 7, 2010). "Oklahoma City Might Save as Much as $14 Million on Ford Center Renovations, Practice Facility". The Oklahoman . Oklahoma City. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  16. Rohde, John (November 16, 2010). "Thunder Practice Facility Set for March Completion". The Oklahoman . Oklahoma City. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
  17. Rhode, John (November 8, 2006). "Hornets Nest Spruced Up Ford Center". The Oklahoman . Oklahoma City. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  18. Mayberry, Darnell (October 10, 2007). "Fans Thank Hornets for the Memories". The Oklahoman . Oklahoma City. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  19. "Stern Looking Forward to NBA's Return to Oklahoma City". The Oklahoman . Oklahoma City. April 13, 2007. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  20. Ellis, Randy; Casteel, Chris (July 3, 2008). "Now That Seattle Lawsuit Has Been Settled, the NBA Is on Its Way Here to Stay". The Oklahoman . Oklahoma City. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  21. "UFC Fight Night: Diaz vs. Guillard". UFC. September 16, 2009. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  22. "Strikeforce confirms Jan. 12 event is final Showtime broadcast". December 20, 2012.
Events and tenants
Preceded by
KeyArena (as Seattle SuperSonics)
Home of the
Oklahoma City Thunder

Succeeded by
Preceded by
Cox Convention Center
Home of the
Oklahoma City Blazers

Succeeded by
last arena
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz

Succeeded by
Cox Convention Center
Preceded by
New Orleans Arena
Home of the
New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets

Succeeded by
New Orleans Arena