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Early Thunder game likely to cause traffic, parking issues

The 6 p.m. start time of the Oklahoma City Thunder's home game Wednesday against the Boston Celtics will bring hordes of fans to downtown before many office workers are able to clear out.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL Published: February 22, 2012

Local basketball fans should expect busy streets and plenty of occupied parking spaces in downtown Oklahoma City on Wednesday evening for the earliest weeknight home game in Thunder history.

The Thunder's game Wednesday against the Boston Celtics in Chesapeake Energy Arena begins at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than most of the team's weeknight games. The earlier start is to accommodate ESPN, which will broadcast the game nationally, along with the Fox Sports Oklahoma in the local market.

Fans attending the game likely will find downtown streets more crowded and parking spaces more limited than they're accustomed to for 7 p.m. games.

“We will be dealing with both persons coming into downtown, as well as persons leaving downtown,” Oklahoma City police Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow said. “We aren't making any specific changes for traffic control in advance, but our officers will be ready to react should it become a problem.”

Thunder officials encourage fans to plan for the possibility of extra logistical headaches as they make their way to the game.

“We would just urge people coming to the game from outside downtown to allow extra time to get here and get parked,” Thunder spokesman Dan Mahoney said.

“We have a lot of people who work downtown who come to the games (and) who maybe on a normal night might go home first, but in this case head straight to the game. So that could offset some of that.”

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