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.
“Ten years ago, that kid probably had never heard of Oklahoma City unless he was studying the state capitals,” Cornett said. “Today, he can't wait to turn on the TV and watch an event from our city. We can't really imagine today the things that that can lead to. We're on the map.”
The excitement for fans around the country during the finals was revealed in the television ratings, which soared to the second-highest level for the NBA Finals in the history of ABC, which had the U.S. broadcast rights.
Fans inside the arena revealed their excitement with their pocketbooks.
The arena's concession stands raked in $1,000 per minute during the two finals games in Oklahoma City, Desjardins said. Sixty percent of that is kept by SMG and the city, with the Thunder getting the rest.
Fans normally spend an average of $10.62 apiece on concessions during a regular season game, Desjardins said. That rose as the Thunder moved through each round of the playoffs, topping out at $13.81 apiece during the finals games.
Based on the combined official attendance figures for both games of 36,406, that means fans spent more than $500,000 on concessions, of which about $300,000 went to SMG and the city.
Sales numbers for team apparel and souvenirs presumably enjoyed a similar jump, but proceeds from those sales are exclusively the team's and were not disclosed in the presentation.