OKC Thunder to Eliminate ‘Watch Parties’ Following Shootings?

by May 23, 2012

Gunfire marred the celebration on Monday night, following the OKC Thunder’s Game 5 win over the Los Angeles Lakers. And that ugly incident has the team and city seriously considering major changes (if not outright elimination) of the popular watch parties for fans outside the arena. Per the Oklahoman: “At least eight people were wounded by gunfire, and a pregnant woman was injured following the Thunder’s 106-90 playoff victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals Monday night. Shots were fired about three blocks east of a Thunder Alley watch party, which occupied Reno Avenue between Chesapeake Arena and the Cox Convention Center. ‘This ever-growing game night crowd that gathers on the street outside the building, that can’t continue,’ Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett said Tuesday. ‘There are too many public safety concerns. As much as we love the expression of enthusiasm, it’s no longer a workable situation.’ Thunder Alley originally was an occasional pregame party that included interactive games, concessions, and merchandise. It began three hours before tipoff and would shut down once the game started. During this year’s playoffs, a watch party was added and fans were invited to bring chairs and blankets to Thunder Alley to view the game on a new video display board — 74 feet tall by 20 feet wide — that was mounted on the northwest side of Chesapeake Arena during recent renovations to the facility. Crowds initially consisted of 2,000-3,000 people watching the game outside the arena, but swelled to an estimated 6,000-7,000 people on Monday night to watch the Thunder eliminate the Lakers and advance to the Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs.”