Severe weather plans are in place for Thunder, Barons games in Oklahoma City

The Thunder and the Barons are both gearing up for playoff runs. But playoff time in Oklahoma City is right in the middle of tornado season. There are plans in place at both arenas in case severe weather occurs during a game.
BY MICHAEL KIMBALL mkimball@opubco.com Published: April 14, 2012

Both buildings are also built of strong stuff. The Chesapeake Energy Arena, for example, was built to codes requiring it to withstand sustained 80 mph winds, but other safety requirements also reinforce the building. Rules for fire safety mean it can withstand fires for hours before collapsing.

“The entire structure, with the exception of the roof, is either concrete block or poured-in-place concrete heavily reinforced with steel,” said Jeff Heinze, a plan review supervisor at the city's development center.

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Storm safety often boils down to personal responsibility, said city Emergency Manager Frank Barnes.

“You've got to know what the weather's doing and know what's happening in your environment,” Barnes said. “Maybe you need to start thinking about, ‘Do I really want to go to that event? And if I go there, what am I going to do if a tornado warning is issued?' That's part of individual responsibility. You have to know what you and your family are going to do.”

There's a precedent for unpredictable events moving NBA playoff games. Two playoff games involving the Clippers and Lakers were rescheduled during the Los Angeles riots in 1992, NBA spokesman Mark Broussard said.

The Clippers played their game on another day in Anaheim, Calif., and the Lakers played in Las Vegas. Roof repairs prompted a postponement of a 1968 game in Philadelphia.

Ultimately, officials are confident the combination of planning and common sense will keep everyone safe.

“We always urge people to use caution and use good common sense,” Thunder spokesman Dan Mahoney said. “That's our message all the time.”

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