By unanimous consent, the Oklahoma City council voted Tuesday for a special election for voters to choose or reject a proposed penny sales tax to spend millions of dollars in improvements to the Ford Center.
Citizens will vote March 4 to decide if more than $120 million in improvements to Oklahoma City’s Ford Center arena will be made in order to lure the Seattle SuperSonics away from Washington and into Oklahoma.
In a preface to the council’s vote, Mayor Mick Cornett told members that from discussions with the team’s owners to bring the Sonics to the city, the team will not relocate here without the improvements.
“I have stated, and believe it today, that if we do not call for this election and if the citizens do not pass this initiative in March, we will not be getting an NBA team, and if it does pass, we most likely will be getting an NBA team,” Cornett said.
Among the owners of the Sonics are developer Clayton Bennett, and Chesapeake Energy founder Aubrey McClendon. Both are residents of Oklahoma City.
Improvements to the center include a separate practice facility – a matter of concern to several council members. Also of concern to members of the council was the swiftness needed for their decision.
“This is a significant issue. It’s very unusual for the council to be spending this much money on something that has not had a longer opportunity for discourse. The timing is what it is,” Cornett said. -Ben Fenwick