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.
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".
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.
Check out the videos below to see the Thunder Girls performing and the player introductions:
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 around Chesapeake Energy Arena provides lodging within walking distance, including a Marriott Courtyard right next door. 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.
Oklahoma City Thunder single games tickets range from as low as $15 in 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; keep this in mind when considering 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.
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.
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.
1 N Oklahoma Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
208 Johnny Bench Dr Suite C
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
7 Mickey Mantle Drive
Oklahoma City, OK 73104
620 N Harvey Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
2 W Reno Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73102