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Thunder practice facility set for March completion

By John Rohde, Staff Writer, Modified: November 16, 2010 at 10:23 pm •  Published: November 16, 2010

The Thunder's new practice facility now has a scheduled completion date of March 2011 and a price tag of approximately $16 million.

Oklahoma City special projects manager Tom Anderson oversees administrative oversights for the new practice facility and renovations to Oklahoma City Arena. Anderson said a number of issues caused what now amounts to a six-month delay with construction of the practice facility, including weather and design changes that must made on-site.

As a result, the Oklahoma City Council voted Tuesday to provide an additional $214,851 to extend the project's architectural engineering contract through March.

Funding for the practice facility and renovations to the arena (formerly the Ford Center) came from a one-cent sales tax approved by Oklahoma City voters in March 2008.

The 15-month sales tax took effect on Jan. 1, 2009, and ended March 31, 2010. Original estimates projected $121 million in taxes would go toward the two sports facilities, but only $103 million came in due to economic woes.

“It was the worst sales tax collection as far back as most people can remember,” Anderson said. “It was worse than it was during the oil bust (of 1982).”

The new practice facility originally was expected to cost $20 million. “We've been able to cut costs without really sacrificing quality,” Anderson said.

With the latest delay, it appears unlikely the Thunder will relocate this season from its temporary practice facility at 14701 N. Lincoln Blvd. in Edmond. Thunder general manager Sam Presti said a decision on when the team will move won't be made until the new practice facility is complete.

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