WITH his hot dog stand Colonel Mustard’s, Beau Darrough serves up chili cheese coneys and cans of soda to fans in Thunder Alley in front of Chesapeake Energy Arena before every home game.
Collecting wadded-up dollar bills from a stream of customers wearing Thunder blue before Game 2 of the Thunder’s now-tied series with Memphis Grizzlies last week, Darrough hoped Oklahoma City would be able to stay in the NBA Playoffs for at least another round.
“The longer they go, the bigger the crowds get — that’s my business,” Darrough said over the thumping cacophony of the Thunder Drummers’ pregame show in Thunder Alley.
Many local business owners are hoping this week that the Thunder can win two of the remaining three games in the series to advance to the next round of the NBA Playoffs. City officials estimated in 2013 that each Thunder home game has an economic impact of about $1.5 million.
While the first and second round of the NBA Playoffs give Oklahoma City restaurants and retailers a little boost, local hotels start to get booked up if the team makes to the conference finals, said Mike Carrier, president of the Oklahoma Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“The first and second rounds of the playoffs are about the same as a normal Thunder game,” Carrier said. “About five percent of the crowd is from out of town, and if it’s a televised game, you will pick up a few more hotel rooms with TV crews.”
In 2012, when Oklahoma City hosted two games of the NBA Finals, more than 500 credentialed members of the media from 200 countries came to Oklahoma City, giving the city a boost in sales and hotel tax revenue by booking hotel rooms and eating meals at local restaurants, Carrier said.
Feeding the fans
Deep Deuce Grill owners Craig Brown said his restaurant and bar at 307 NE 2 gets a nice boost during Thunder games even if the team is playing an away game.
“Each time there is an additional game, we certainly benefit from it,” Brown said.
Brown has started offering his customers a shuttle bus service to the arena from his restaurant during home games to lure more people in the door.
From top: Thunder flags hang from a building in Automobile Alley.