As the debate rages over the fate of Thunder Alley, Bricktown merchants and property owners say they hope that if it is continued that changes will be implemented.
In what was the worst violence in the history of the downtown entertainment district, eight people were shot and a pregnant woman was injured in the minutes after thousands left the Thunder game and outdoor Thunder Alley festivities at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Despite the proximity to Thunder Alley and timing of the shootings, a team spokesman initially suggested the violence and festival might be unrelated.
“It did not happen at the arena, at the game, at Thunder Alley,” Thunder spokesman Dan Mahoney said in an initial response to the shootings. “We'll continue to work with law enforcement to provide a safe environment.”
That comment left some in Bricktown saying they believe the shootings were tied to the large crowds that gathered at the arena.
A Bricktown incident?
Jeannette Smith, director of the Bricktown Association, said her district had an ample presence of police and private security.
“I don't think it's a Bricktown incident at all,” Smith said. “You have 30,000 people in one area and everyone was leaving at once from a Thunder game. And then you have one hotheaded person.”
Smith said her discussions have been limited to talks with police, but she suggested crowd limits be used with future Thunder Alley events.
Jonathan Pitman, co-owner of the Power Alley Parking Garage in Bricktown and part of a development group that built the Hampton Inn and is preparing to build a second Bricktown hotel, was among those who heard the gunfire as he left Monday night's game.
Pitman said he had just turned the corner at Mickey Mantle Drive and Reno Avenue when he heard the gunshots. He estimates he was about 15 yards away from the incident when the shots were fired.
Pitman said the crowd had “a bad vibe” as he left the game, and he asked whether ticketing could be used to maintain control over the festivities.
“A lot of it was fueled by unregulated alcohol,” Pitman said. “This needs to be a controlled event. People shouldn't be allowed to walk up with coolers of beers. The vibe was very scary.”
Charles Stout, co-owner of the Bricktown Brewery, called the violence “a numbing deal.”