In the Golden Era of Thunder basketball (read: when the fanbase believed the team would win several championships), there was a thing called Thunder Alley. Gather ’round, kids, and hear about the days when a giant screen was projected in front of the arena, and the Bud Lights flowed like wine, or I guess water since it was 3.2% back then.
After a random shooting that has nothing to do with the availability of guns and the good guys who legendarily possess them, Thunder Alley was shut down.
A group of investors, who are coincidentally the same ones who own the team, have partnered with the guy who made Bricktown boring, to open an entertainment complex across the street from the arena in order to appease the peasants who can’t get into the game, but still feel like spending way too much money to take their family out.
If approved by the Urban Renewal Authority, the proposal calls for construction to start by spring 2020 with an opening a year later. Randy Hogan, who developed Lower Bricktown and East Wharf, said Tuesday the complex is designed to create a year-round attraction that can host summer basketball camps, corporate events and festivals.
An iconic basketball with a mirror finish will anchor the plaza across from the future Omni Hotel, and is envisioned by the developers to become “the place for photographic opportunities in Oklahoma City.”
Well, this sounds tacky as hell, and it will fit right into other popular photographic opportunities in Oklahoma City, such as the Cock Ring.
“It is important that the entertainment block strike a balance between being open and inviting while simultaneously providing a secure place for people to enjoy dinner and other pre-game and post-game activities,” Hogan wrote in his proposal. “We believe the combination of the open public plaza and controlled access dining strikes this balance.”
The remainder of the east end of the block, a narrower stretch of land, is proposed to be turned into controlled surface parking for 70 cars to be surrounded by a hedge and additional landscaping. That parking lot, Hogan said, also will provide the arena with extra truck docking space — a shortfall with the arena blamed for loss of concerts like the recent U2 tour.
It’s also very cool that we’re adding more surface parking to our downtown, which you know is needed if you’ve ever been to any larger city.
Anyways, here are the 5 things we’d love to see in the new, improved, and heavily team-controlled Thunder Alley:
1. Desmond Mason’s Wine & Paint
Not everybody loves basketball, and that’s totally okay. Ya got the right-brained and left-brained and the jocks and everybody in between. If mom wants to watch the game, the kids wanna play in the ballpit, and dad isn’t into any of that, consider dropping him off at Desmond Mason’s Wine & Paint. He’ll get to enjoy cheap merlot and try his hand at duplicating famous works of art from other better painters.
2. Scotty Brooks Memorial Fountain
There’s a lot to absorb looking at Scott Brook’s coaching record since he’s made his transition from OKC to Washington. If you consider talent and the rosters he’s dealt with, has Billy Donovan done much better? It’s time that we follow the Oklahoma tradition of memorializing coaches and give Brooks a majestic monument in front of Thunder Alley 2.0.
3. Berry Tramel Teahouse
Of all the local sports media, arguably nobody has a more fraught relationship with the Thunder than The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel. It’s gotta suck to get ignored constantly by the star players, especially when you came up as a beat writer covering student athletics. At Tramel’s Teahouse, Berry himself will serve you organic and fair-trade tea, then personally whine with every order about how Russell Westbrook doesn’t want to talk to him.
4. Russell Westbrook’s Ball Pit
Speaking of Russ, he should sponsor a fun ball pit for the kiddos. It’s going to start out as an empty pit, which is very dangerous, but here’s the catch: For every wide-open, pull-up basket that Westbrook shoots and misses, a plastic ball is added to the pit. After 20 games or so, it’ll be flush with colorful balls and be a safe environment for kids to play and spread disease in.
5. Ibaka’s Sausage Factory
Let’s just quit while we’re ahead here.