What if the thunder outside a Thunder game was accompanied by a tornado?
Oklahoma City's NBA franchise seems primed for postseason
Parts of the regular season and playoffs of both sports are right in the middle of tornado season in Oklahoma, so there are likely to be lots of chances for years to come for severe weather to cause a problem during a home game. But there are plans in place to protect fans and participants if bad weather is on the way.
“We're going to keep everybody away from glass or places where you could be injured, and put you in the safest place we can get you,” said Tim Linville, a spokesman for SMG, which operates the city-owned Chesapeake Energy Arena and Cox Convention Center.
Strong buildings equipped with strong shelters
Given plenty of warning, there are shelter areas at both arenas where people can go, Linville said. In the Cox Center, fans can evacuate quickly to the below-ground parking garage without leaving the building. The Chesapeake Energy Arena has underground shelter areas for people in the lower levels and stairwell shelters for those in the upper level.
Staff at both arenas train once per year on evacuation plans.
With short notice, arena staff will move people who are near glass or in the immediate outside vicinity of the arena to concourses or the main arena bowls, away from parts of the buildings with glass, Linville said. Most fans can simply stay put.
That's what happened during an Alanis Morissette and Matchbox 20 concert at the arena in March 2008. Fans were encouraged to get to interior parts of the building during a severe storm, and the show didn't miss a beat, Linville said.
Both buildings are also built of strong stuff. The Chesapeake Energy Arena, for example, was built to codes requiring it to withstand sustained 80 mph winds, but other safety requirements also reinforce the building. Rules for fire safety mean it can withstand fires for hours before collapsing.
“The entire structure, with the exception of the roof, is either concrete block or poured-in-place concrete heavily reinforced with steel,” said Jeff Heinze, a plan review supervisor at the city's
Storm safety often boils down to personal responsibility, said city Emergency Manager Frank Barnes.
“You've got to know what the weather's doing and know what's happening in your environment,” Barnes said. “Maybe you need to start thinking about, ‘Do I really want to go to that event? And if I go there, what am I going to do if a tornado warning is issued?' That's part of individual responsibility. You have to know what you and your family are going to do.”
There's a precedent for unpredictable events moving NBA playoff games. Two playoff games involving the Clippers and Lakers were rescheduled during the Los Angeles riots in 1992, NBA spokesman Mark Broussard said.
The Clippers played their game on another day in Anaheim, Calif., and the Lakers played in Las
Ultimately, officials are confident the combination of planning and common sense will keep
“We always urge people to use caution and use good common sense,” Thunder spokesman Dan Mahoney said. “That's our message all the time.”