The Thunder is closing down the Ford Center tonight.
After the final buzzer and after the players leave the court, the only people inside the Ford Center the next five months will be construction crews giving the six-year-old facility a significant facelift.
The next time anyone watches the Thunder play a preseason game in October, capacity will be reduced by around 550 seats. Major additions will include:
→A new $5.5 million scoreboard with video wings on the top and bottom and high definition-like quality.
→Upgraded floors and wall finishes in Loud City.
→48 new box seating areas in the club area.
→A new locker room the length of the court that will include weight equipment, video equipment and player-friendly amenities.
"A more modern building will improve the fan experience,” said Brian Byrnes, Thunder vice president of ticket sales and services. "Thunder games will be more exciting because the focus is on fan amenities.”
Using nearly half of the $120 million generated from a 1-cent sales tax extension voters approved last year, the Ford Center will feature several major changes. Many of the new additions will generate additional revenue streams for the Thunder.
Construction bids will be accepted in early May and work will start after that. No concerts or sporting events will be held in the Ford Center until renovation concludes in late September.
The most significant addition is 48 loge boxes, four- and six-seat areas on both ends in the club sections.
"Loge seating is the new thing,” said Tim Linville, director of Ford Center marketing and sales. "They’ll have a table in the front and back and wide seats on swivel casters. It feels like a suite. You just don’t have a big walking area with all the furniture. It fills a niche between regular seats and a suite.”
Loge boxes include year-round entertainment. For the same price as an eighth row Thunder courtside level season ticket, loge boxes — at prices of $12,375 per seat (in six-seat boxes) or $14,045 per seat (in four-seats boxes) — include tickets to most major concerts, family shows and all Thunder games.
Because of the loge boxes, Ford Center capacity for NBA games will be reduced to around 18,600 compared to this season’s 19,136-seat configuration. The number of suites will be reduced from 55 to 36.
For the average fan, the most noticeable changes will be the new scoreboard, a new LED ribbon video board around the arena and upgrades entering Loud City.
The Thunder’s current locker room will be converted into a ground level club for specific sections in the lower bowl.