The vastly improved Thunder has become the talk of the NBA and has been scheduled for 24 national telecasts this season. A study presented by ICON Venue Group LLC to Thunder owners prior to the team's move from Seattle projected naming rights for the Oklahoma City arena would be worth $2 million to the owners the first year, $3 million the second year, $3.5 million the third year and increase 3 percent a year for the remainder of the deal. Those estimates were based on an assumed average attendance of 14,569 for the 2008-2009 season and 14,269 the following year. The Thunder's average attendance its first season (2008-2009) was 18,594 and was 18,003 last season, when the capacity inside the Ford Center was reduced by approximately 1,000 seats. The naming rights business began in 1953 when Anheuser-Busch sought to buy the naming rights to Sportsman's Park, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, and rename the park Budweiser Stadium. League officials were hesitant to name a stadium after a beer, but agreed to let Augustus Busch use his family's name on the park, and the Cardinals opened the 1954 season in Busch Stadium. So long, Ford Center; Hello Thunderdome?
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Some of the more lucrative current naming rights contracts to NBA arenas include: Philips Arena (Atlanta Hawks): average $9.3 million a year though 2019. American Airlines Center (Dallas Mavericks): average $6.5 million a year through 2031. Staples Center (Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers): average $5.8 million through 2019. FedExForum (Memphis Grizzlies): average $4.5 million a year through 2023. Pepsi Center (Denver Nuggets): average $3.4 million a year through 2019. AT&T Center (San Antonio Spurs): average $2.1 million a year through 2022. Bank of Oklahoma agreed to pay $11 million over 20 years to the city of Tulsa to name the BOK Center.