SBD/October 17, 2013/Franchises

Thunder Seeing Tulsa Fanbase Grow Thanks To Preseason Games At BOK Center

The Thunder tonight will play their fifth exhibition game at the BOK Center since '08 when they host the Pelicans, and the crowds "have gotten consistently larger" each time the team travels to Tulsa, according to Darnell Mayberry of the OKLAHOMAN. Thunder coach Scott Brooks said, "It's always been great. Every game we've had there it's been a great atmosphere. It's great for us and great for the fans. It's an opportunity for us to continue to show the state our team" (OKLAHOMAN, 10/17). In Tulsa, Bill Haisten in a front-page piece notes the Thunder last year "attracted the largest crowd -- 18,233 -- in BOK Center history." Thunder officials said that tonight's game "is a sellout." BOK Center Assistant GM Jeff Nickler said, "The Thunder brand is strong in Tulsa. The atmosphere last year was electric." However, the '12 Thunder attendance record "won't be matched." Nickler said that because of an upper-bowl renovation in the BOK Center, the "seating capacity for an NBA game has been reduced to slightly less than 18,000." Thunder Senior VP/Sales & Marketing Brian Byrnes said, "We believe we're a big enough brand that we can go into the market and be successful. We've shown that now. ... We're selling out quicker. ... We're seeing growth in merchandising and TV ratings in the Tulsa area." He added, "The fan base has grown to a point now where we can stand on our own. We can go up against some competitive issues and still be very successful." Haisten notes one of those issues is high school football. Most Tulsa-area teams "do play on Thursday this week, and still the Thunder game is a sellout." Byrnes said of scheduling the Tulsa date, "It's a bit of a tricky dance. We always start with what's going on in the market. We want to avoid high school football, if we can. We want to avoid festivals. We want to find a date that can be a success" (TULSA WORLD, 10/17).

THUNDER PRESEASON GAMES AT BOK CENTER IN TULSA
DATE
OPPONENT
ATTENDANCE
10/19/12
Suns
18,233
10/12/10
Grizzlies
11,297
10/14/09
Heat
10,427
10/13/08
Rockets
9,549

NOTE: The Thunder did not host a preseason game prior to the start of the '11-12 season due to the NBA lockout.
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