By Lucy Albers
June 8, 2022, marked the 20-year anniversary for ASM Global’s Paycom Center, Oklahoma City’s premier sports and entertainment destination.
Construction for Oklahoma City’s downtown arena began in 1999 as part of the initial Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS) program. Originally built as a hockey arena hosting the CHL’s Oklahoma City Blazers (2002-2009), the arena opened as Ford Center with a ribbon cutting event on June 8, 2002. The facility has also hosted AF2’s Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz (2004-2008), is currently home to NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder (since 2008), and NBA G League’s Oklahoma City Blue (since 2021). The arena served as the home for NBA’s New Orleans Hornets from 2005-2007 while displaced from their arena due to damage from Hurricane Katrina.
“The opening of the MAPS arena in 2002 changed our city forever, because it finally gave us the platform to attract the NBA and world class concerts and events,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. “Twenty years is a long time in the life of a modern American arena. Our previous arena – the Myriad – was 21 years old when the voters of Oklahoma City approved its replacement with the passage of MAPS. These twenty years have brought a lifetime of memories, from the NBA Finals to Paul McCartney. Though there are many priorities for a city, we have learned that having a cutting-edge arena is critical to our city’s success. My thanks to the voters for repeatedly supporting that ambition and our city’s resulting growth. Also, my thanks to the great arena management we have had through the years.”
Throughout the past 20 years, Paycom Center has hosted hundreds of top-tier entertainment events and millions of guests. Record-breaking highlights and big names include:
Garth Brooks brought more than 60,000 people to the arena for four record-setting shows in July 2017. Brooks was the first artist to play a four-show run and broke record sales selling over 50,000 tickets in just 57 minutes. Playing all four shows in 27 hours, it’s also the first time the arena hosted multiple, major concerts in a single day.
Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods Tour became the arena’s and Oklahoma City’s highest grossing show on January 26, 2019. More than 16,000 fans attended the show.
The ‘King of Country’, George Strait, holds the record for highest attended single show when over 18,000 fans filled the arena on January 20, 2006. Strait also holds the record for most single-artist performances at the arena, with a total of six shows in its 20 years.
Trans-Siberian Orchestra holds the record for the group with most shows in the arena’s 20 years, having played 27 concerts (some years holding multiple performances). The group has performed for 15 nearly consecutive years (with the only break happening in 2020).
637 Thunder games, including 27 preseason, 554 regular season, and 56 playoff games.
Operations inside the arena also continue to set records, with SAVOR’s food and beverage team consistently offering world-class options for guests. With their Non-Profit Organization program, where groups can assist in concession stands for a donation to their organization, the arena has donated almost $6 million to non-profits. Throughout the past twenty years, they have also been able to serve:
Over 2 million hot dogs; measuring almost 400 miles back-to-back, equaling nearly the distance from Oklahoma City to Austin, TX.
Over 10.2 million gallons of beer; approximately enough to fill 15 Olympic pools.
Over 19 million gallons of soda; approximately enough to fill 29 Olympic pools.
Over 8.5 million gallons of water; approximately enough to fill 13 Olympic pools.
Over 1.4 trillion popcorn kernels popped; enough to fill Paycom Center with popped popcorn six times.
The past 20 years have set Oklahoma City’s arena up for continued success. Notable events scheduled yet this year include Andrea Bocelli’s first ever show in Oklahoma (June 23), tour opening-night shows for Kendrick Lamar (July 19) and My Chemical Romance (August 20), a brand-new PBR event with their Team Series only happening in 10 cities (September 16-18), and two sold-out nights with Luke Combs in-the-round (December 9-10).
Facility upgrades are also on the docket for the future, with MAPS 4 approved funding of $105 million for enhancements and renovations through 2028. Construction on several initial projects start this year including new seating, a new scoreboard, enhanced 300-level concession areas and signature bar, and further technology and infrastructure improvements.
Paycom Center has been a vital part of Oklahoma City for 20 years, and in return strives to implement and participate in programs that extend beyond the walls of our venue. Paycom Center’s 20th Anniversary will continue through the year with many other promotions and activities. Fans are encouraged to follow arena social media accounts and sign up for emails to stay up to date with more news to come. More information can be found at www.paycomcenter.com.
Pictured: Ribbon-cutting in 2002.
Lucy Albers is Director of Marketing & PR for Paycom Center.