Oklahoma City basked in exposure, cash during Thunder's NBA Finals run

The Oklahoma City Thunder's run to the NBA Finals meant sights and sounds from the city were beamed into 215 countries in 47 languages. Fans also opened their pocketbooks to a greater degree than in the regular season, benefiting the city financially.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: July 6, 2012

It would be hard to measure the value of the exposure Oklahoma City gained last month when images of something exciting happening here were beamed into living rooms in 215 countries. But Mayor Mick Cornett gave it a shot.

“It's astronomical,” Cornett said. “I suspect it will lead to things we can't imagine today, whether that's a business, a job or an opportunity in the future that somehow got its spark from Oklahoma City's increased recognition.”

The Thunder's appearance in the NBA Finals was seen on televisions and computer screens in every permanently inhabited continent on Earth — and maybe even in Antarctica, too, if one of the scientists stationed there watched one of the many live streams on the Internet. Commentary accompanied telecasts in 47 languages, and countries as diverse as Cameroon, Mongolia and New Zealand had broadcasters pick up the Finals for the first time this year.

Gary Desjardins, who manages Chesapeake Energy Arena for management company SMG on behalf of the city, explained the breadth of the finals' impact on the city in a presentation in June to Oklahoma City's Sports Facilities Oversight Board. As legions of fans, NBA executives and members of the media descended upon the city last month, countless hours were spent by SMG, the team and city employees to help put Oklahoma City's best foot forward.

No detail was too small for the league, team and city. Even the special NBA Finals logo on the court had to look just right.

“After every practice (and game), we had to remove them and then reinstall a new set so everything looked pristine on TV,” Desjardins said.

‘We're on the map'

Cornett said he thinks Oklahoma City will be reaping the benefits of exposure brought by the Thunder for years to come, especially from children enchanted by the team's rise and youthful star players.

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