The Chesapeake Energy Arena, formerly known as the Ford Center, opened in 2002. In the first eight years, it initially housed the Oklahoma City Blazers, a CHL team. The arena was built originally with the minimum NBA and NHL specifications but has the ability to create a “buildout” of amenities and improvements if a professional sports team would relocate to the venue. This happened in 2008. The seating capacity for the arena is 18,203 which is almost a 1,000 seats less from the original capacity in 2002 after some modifications.
The Chesapeake Energy Arena has played host to the 2007 and 2009 Big 12 Men’s Basketball Tournament, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship First and Second Rounds, and the 2014 NCAA Division 1 Wrestling Championship.
In 2012, the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chesapeake Energy Arena were host of the NBA Finals.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
There are numerous food and beverage choices inside the Chesapeake Energy Arena including two sit-down bars and restaurants on the lower concourse, the Center Court Grill and the Old No. 7 Club. The Fast Break and Baseline concession stands offer all the favorites such as the jumbo hot dog priced at $4.50 and a Chili Cheese dog for $5.00. Regular nachos with cheese and jalapenos pricing is at $4.75 while the super nachos of chili, cheese, jalapenos, sour cream, and salsa is at $6.75.
Souvenir popcorn, cotton candy, pretzels, and peanuts range from $3.50 to $5.75. Pizza Hut, Taco Mayo, Casa Azul, Wing-N-It, Backyard BBQ, Schwab & CO (Specialties hot dogs), Burger Zone (various types of stuffed burgers) and Red River Bistro concession stands are located throughout the arena providing the other variety of 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. Coca Cola Company products control the non-alcohol beverages at the concession stands; $3.75 for a regular size, $4.00 bottle soda and water, or the souvenir OKC Thunder cup for $5.50.
The alcohol selections are as plentiful as the food menu with beer, wine, and call drinks available. The basic domestic beers such as Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light, Shiner Bock, and Miller Lite bottles go for $6.50 while domestic draft is $7.25. There is a Samuel Adams Brewhouse serving Rebel IPA, Angry Orchard, Samuel Adams Seasonal Brew, and Samuel Adams Lager on draft for $8.50. Bud Light Straw-ber-Rita, Lime-Rita, and Mang-o-Rita each cost $7 a can or $7.25 draught. The wine costs from $7 to a premium wine of $9 a glass and the call beverages are $8.00 with a premium beverage a $1.50 more at $9.50.
The Chesapeake Energy Arena has one of the best NBA atmosphere in the country. The arena promotes the entire upper seating as Loud City with signage around the arena. There is a food concession stand called Loud City Grill, along with a sign showing the population of the upper deck seating of 7,631 at one portal. This is a great preview of how the atmosphere inside the arena will be during the game. The decibel level of noise is high throughout the game. The pregame ceremony on the top notch hi-def scoreboard over the court shows tribute to the state of Oklahoma. Once the lights go off for the Thunder introductions, a loud tornado siren with artificial lighting goes off inside the arena.
The Storm Chasers, a group of young men and women along the Thunder Girls, appear on the court cheering and flag waving before the players are introduced and the noise continues to get loud. There are the typical game day promotions of the t-shirt toss and half court shots, but the Thunder mascot's, Rumble the Bison, dunking is the most impressive. The Storm Chasers continue to keep the crowd cheering throughout the game with different chants depending on the situation.
The arena is located in downtown Oklahoma City, near the historic Bricktown District, across the street from the Cox Convention Center. Bricktown is the entertainment district in downtown Oklahoma City. Formerly a major warehousing district, the area was renovated with the construction of Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in 1998, and the ballpark is home for 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 River Walk, 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's 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 being next door to the arena. The Hampton Inn and Suite is next to 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.
The Thunder fans are amazing; the dedication, friendliness, kind spirit, along with the enthusiasm the fans bring to a Thunder game is simply the best in the NBA. The fans all seem to be dressed in Thunder jerseys and hats and remain loud throughout the game. The fans even mimic a college basketball tradition of standing and cheering until the first Thunder points are scored in the game.
Like many other downtown arenas parking can be scarce. There are 900 parking spaces available in the Cox Convention Center underground parking garage at the cost of $8. The Century Center Garage on Main by the Colcord Hotel is a short walk at the cost of $8. There are about a dozen parking lots ranging from $5-$20 around the arena, along with some free parking on the streets if you can manage to get there early.
Of course, if you are spending time in the Bricktown restaurants, there are parking lots as well as a parking garage. So, you will be able to find parking but the 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 for navigating to your section.
The arena has no luxury boxes so the upper deck seems closer to the action than most other venues. Lower level tickets are obviously more expensive, however the average ticket price is $51 which is below the NBA average of $53. The combination of a strong fan base, wonderful atmosphere, and an arena that is one of the best venues in the NBA provides a return on investment that is well worth it when you consider spending entertainment dollars.
An art gallery located on the first concourse, this art was done by former Oklahoma State standout Desmond Mason
The Spirit Zone on each level where you can get face tattoos or have caricatures of yourself drawn.
The Oklahoma City Thunder staff and operations for providing a wonderful game day atmosphere.
The Chesapeake Energy Arena is one of the most exciting places to watch an NBA game. The fans go all out to give a home court advantage. The amazing Thunder staff provides excellent entertainment. Oklahoma City is in a hidden gem of a city that offers plenty of things to see, do, and explore. A visit to Oklahoma City and a Thunder game is well worth a trip for any person that just wants to see a great part of the country.
The Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City opened its doors on June 8th, 2002. Behind Hurricane Katrina, the beautiful $89 million facility is the second main reason why it is the home to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Chesapeake Energy Arena has built new renovations during most off seasons and is growing just as fast as the city.
After I proclaimed I would never-ever-ever see another NBA game after an awful visit to a Phoenix Suns game, I found myself in OKC on a Sunday evening in Nov, 2012 with nothing to do AND my hotel was right next door to the Chesapeake Energy Arena AND the Thunder were in town. So, I purchased a $10 seat and attended a Thunder game and was much more satisfied with this NBA visit than the one at the Phoenix Suns game.
They do wand you during the security check. The folks doing their job at this security check are much more professional, courteous, and personal than those in Phoenix.
Food choices are plentiful at the arena.
The street in front of the arena is closed off pre-game and there are plenty of fun activities on the street: food, drink, face painting, basketball free-throws, bouncy inflatable’s for the kids. At the game, I had great neighbors in the area in which I was sitting.
OKC is a fantastic city to tour. Some recommendations: OKC National Memorial & Museum, American Banjo Museum, Bricktown, Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Eating and drinking establishments with walking distance (1/2 mile) not included in this review are: Tapwerks and Bricktown Brewery and Coach’s.
I didn’t have an issue with access to the arena as I flew into the Will Rogers OKC airport and took a taxi to the Courtyard Marriott. There’s an OKC trolley system to get you from select points in the city with a stop a few yards of the hotel. The Courtyard Marriott is walking distance to many of the ‘Bricktown’ restaurants and OKC arenas.
I’ll be going back to OKC just because I have not yet seen all the city has to offer and I fell in love with the city. My recommendation, if you go for a game, make time to visit at least the OKC National Memorial & Museum when in town.
I can't say enough good things about the experience my son and I had during our visit to Chesapeake Energy Arena during the 2012 NBA Playoffs.
On a whim, I bought tickets to games 3 & 4 of the 2012 Western Conference Finals between the Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, with the Spurs leading the series 2-0. We drove the 600+ miles from Birmingham the day before Game 3. The day of the game we got to Bricktown early to get the gameday experience. Outside the arena, the TNT crew (Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith & Shaquille O'Neal) created a ton of excitement. Thunder personnel passed out rally towels to all fans entering the arena.
Inside, for both games, every seat had souvenir Thunder t-shirts on them with a different logo for each game. The pre-game videos were what has become typical at NBA games - highlight dunks accompanied by loud rock music. Player introductions included fireworks exploding inside the arena. Typical stuff but the OKC fans responded better than most and set the tone early.
Game 3 was a Thunder blowout. Game 4 was another Thunder win but required a comeback and went down to the last minute. In both games the crowd stayed until the end and were in full throat throughout. The atmosphere throughout both games was as good as any I've experienced - probably enhanced by being able to share it with my son (then 15 yrs old) on our first road trip together.
There was a wide variety of food offerings but we settled for the standard burgers & chicken tenders which were good but nothing outstanding.
OKC does have a nice variety of things to do on off days but we made it a priority to visit the OKC Memorial and it was an incredibly moving experience. Many Americans forget that prior to 9/11 there was OKC and the Memorial serves as a vivid reminder of the tragedy. It is tastefully and respectfully done and if you're in the area you owe it to yourself to visit.
The ticket were expensive because I had to purchase them on StubHub but for WCF games they were not outrageous. They were midway up in the upper bowl but there really isn't a bad seat in the house. The arena was clean and all lit up for the national media.
Overall, this was a great experience and we are looking forward to returning in 2013.
In 1993, the municipal government of Oklahoma City created Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS), which financed new and upgraded sports and entertainment facilities in the city’s downtown area. One of the results of this program was the Oklahoma City Arena, which opened in 2002 after three years of construction. Named the Ford Center for its first eight years, it initially housed the Oklahoma City Blazers, a CHL team.
When Hurricane Katrina forced the New Orleans Hornets to move temporarily, the arena was able to step up and host them for two seasons and local fans adopted the team as their own. That experience convinced an OKC-based ownership group that the town could support a professional sports franchise, and they soon after bought the Seattle SuperSonics and moved them to Oklahoma City, renaming them the Thunder.
When the arena was built, it only met minimum NBA and NHL specifications, lacking more costly amenities such as luxury boxes as there was no guarantee of a major league tenant. However, the facility had the ability to add such features should a professional sports team relocate to the city. While the Supersonics acquisition was being negotiated, the local government placed a sales tax initiative on the city election ballot which passed by a 62% to 38% margin. This tax extension funded the new amenities, which were completed in 2009 and left the arena as one of the best in the NBA.
In 2011, the Chesapeake Energy Corporation took over naming rights and the venue will be known as the Chesapeake Energy Arena until at least 2023.
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