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Ford Center name to change

The Oklahoma City Thunder announced Thursday that the franchise has begun negotiating naming rights with potential new partners. The original naming rights contract allowed the team to terminate the existing agreement should an NBA franchise come to Oklahoma City.
BY JOHN ROHDE, Staff Writer, Modified: August 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm •  Published: August 26, 2010

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?

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.


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