Chesapeake Energy Arena – Oklahoma City Thunder
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OKC’s Thunder Up Arena
Chesapeake Energy Arena, formerly known as the Ford Center, opened in 2002. The first permanent team housed inside the arena was the Oklahoma City Blazers, a CHL team. The arena was built with the minimum NBA and NHL specifications necessary so that the venue could accommodate future improvements, if a professional sports team relocated to the venue. In 2008, this foresight helped when the new owners of the Seattle Supersonics moved the historic basketball team out of Seattle. Chesapeake Energy Arena was a perfect fit for the new team; the relocation of the Supersonics to this 18,203 seat venue created the first NBA franchise in the state of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Chesapeake Energy Arena was used for the Big 12 men’s basketball tournaments in 2007 and 2009, and has also hosted the first and second rounds of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. In addition, the venue was home to the 2017 NCAA women’s basketball regional, the 2014 NCAA Division 1 wrestling championship, and the 2012 NBA Finals.
Food and Beverage 5
The food and beverage area for every NBA venue across the country is becoming five-star. Of course, the more food and beverage options, the more the cost of buying the items.
There are numerous food and beverage choices inside Chesapeake Energy Arena, including two sit-down bars and restaurants on the lower concourse, the Center Court Grill and the Old No. 7 Club. In addition, the Fast Break and Baseline concessions stands offer all the favorites, such as jumbo hot dogs priced at $5.25, and chili cheese dogs for $6.50. Regular nachos with cheese and jalapenos cost $5, while the super nachos with chili, cheese, jalapenos, sour cream, and salsa are $7.
Souvenir popcorn, cotton candy, pretzels, and peanuts range from $4 to $6. Pizza Hut, Taco Mayo, Casa Azul, Wing-N-It, Backyard BBQ, Schwab & CO (specialty hot dogs), Burger Zone (various types of stuffed burgers), and Red River Bistro concession stands are located throughout the arena, providing a variety of other food choices.
Besides the concessions, the concourse has mobile food carts, such as a potato cart, deli cart, and the full press cart, which serves gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. Coke products dominate the non-alcohol beverages at the concession stands here; the best value is the $6 souvenir OKC Thunder cup, otherwise it is $4.25 for a regular size soda or bottled water.
The alcohol selection is as plentiful as the food menu, with beer, wine, and call drinks available. Basic domestic beers such as Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light, Shiner Bock, and Miller Lite bottles go for $6.50, while domestic drafts are $7.50. Wine costs $7 for basic or $9 for premium, and call beverages are $8.50 for basic or $9.50 for premium. There is also a Sam Adams Brewhouse serving Rebel IPA, Angry Orchard, Sam Adams Seasonal Brew, and Sam Adams Lager, all on draft for $8.50.
Chesapeake Energy Arena, hosting Oklahoma’s only major league sport team, is considered by many to be one of the better atmospheres in the NBA. The corporate pricing of tickets in all the NBA arenas usually leads to diehard fans sitting in the upper deck; Chesapeake Energy Arena understands this concept, and promotes the entire upper level seating as Loud City. There is also plenty of signage around the arena, letting fans know that their loudness is what creates the atmosphere inside the arena. The upper concourse even has a concessions stand called Loud City Grill, and there is also a sign showing the population of the upper deck, listed at 7,631.
All of this is a great preview of how the atmosphere inside the arena will be during the game. The decibel level is high throughout the game, and the pregame ceremony includes various Thunder clips, shown on the top notch hi-def scoreboard over the court. Once the lights go out for the Thunder introductions, a loud tornado siren with artificial lightning goes off inside the arena. The Storm Chasers, a group of young men and women, along with the Thunder Girls, appear on the court cheering and waving flags before the players are introduced, and the noise continues to get louder.
There are also the typical game day promotions of half-court shots and t-shirts being tossed, but the Thunder mascot, Rumble the Bison, is one of the better mascots in the NBA; whether he is dunking or firing off t-shirts with his air machine gun, Rumble is always impressing the fans with his entertainment. In addition, the Storm Chasers continue to keep the crowd cheering throughout the game, with different chants depending on the situation. You also have the Spirit Zone on each level, where you can get face tattoos or have caricatures of yourself drawn. Overall, the atmosphere, along with the great fan base of the Thunder, can compete with any NBA venue as being the best when it comes to this rating.
Chesapeake Energy Arena is located in downtown Oklahoma City, near the historic Bricktown District, across the street from Cox Convention Center; Bricktown is the entertainment district in downtown Oklahoma City. Formerly a major warehousing district, this area was renovated with the construction of Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in 1998; the ballpark is home to the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate team, the Oklahoma City Dodgers.
Bricktown offers a wonderful pre/postgame atmosphere within walking distance. Similar to San Antonio’s famous Riverwalk, Bricktown has a canal that allows boat trips between the many restaurants. Some of the restaurants in the area are the Bricktown Brewery, Bourbon Street Café, Toby Keith’s I Love this Bar and Grille, Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, and the popular Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse.
The area provides lodging within walking distance, with a Marriott Courtyard next door to Chesapeake Energy Arena. A Hampton Inn & Suites sits next to Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, while the Sheraton and Hilton hotels are located on the other side of the Cox Convention Center.
Some of the attractions around Oklahoma City outside of Bricktown include the Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum, located just north of the arena, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, and the Myriad Botanical Gardens.
When looking at the average attendance for the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team ranks in the middle of the NBA, but that isn’t because of the OKC fans. Chesapeake Energy Arena is constantly sold out, with the average attendance being the seating capacity of 18,203.
The fact that the Oklahoma City Thunder are the only major professional sports team in the state of Oklahoma helped create the crazed, diehard Thunder fan base. Thunder fans are amazing; the dedication, friendliness, kind spirit, and enthusiasm the fans bring to a Thunder game is simply top-notch in the NBA. The fans all seem to be dressed in Thunder jerseys and hats, and they remain loud throughout the game. The fans even mimic a college basketball tradition of standing and cheering until the first Thunder points are scored.
Like many other downtown arenas, parking can be scarce at Chesapeake Energy Arena. There are 900 parking spaces available in the Cox Convention Center underground parking garage, for a cost of $10 per car. If the convention center garage is full, the Century Center Garage on Main, near the Colcord Hotel, is only a short walk from the arena, and also costs $10. In addition, there are a dozen or so other parking lots dotted around the venue, ranging from $5 to $20 per car, and there is also some free parking along the street on the south side of the arena, if you can manage to get there early.
Of course, if you are spending time in the Bricktown restaurants, there are parking lots and a parking garage in that area as well. So, you will be able to find parking, but our suggestion is to plan ahead.
There are several entrances around the arena that handle the flow of traffic very well, the concourses are well-lit, and there is good signage to help you get to your section.
Return on Investment 4
Oklahoma City Thunder single games tickets range from as low as $15 for the upper concourse to $2500 for courtside seating. The average ticket price is $55, which is around the NBA’s overall average.
Oklahoma City having only one professional team from the four major sports helps in creating a strong fan base. The arena is also up to date in every modern aspect, however, the arena has no luxury boxes, so the upper deck seems closer to the action than at most other venues.
Chesapeake Energy Arena, being a top notch facility, with the fans creating a wonderful atmosphere, has an above average return on investment, when you consider how to spend your entertainment dollars.
Cheapeake Energy Arena provides plenty of exciting basketball in a premier NBA venue, and you can see the 2012 NBA Western Conference trophy on display inside the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame exhibit, located in the concourse.
Chesapeake Energy Arena is one of the most exciting places to watch an NBA game. OKC’s “Thunder Up” fans go all out to give a home court advantage.
Oklahoma City itself is also a hidden gem that offers plenty of things to see, do, and explore. A visit to see Oklahoma City and a Thunder game is well worth the trip for any sports fan.
Food and Drink Recommendations
Mickey Mantle’s Steakhouse
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Courtyard Oklahoma City Downtown
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