Thunder Connects with Tulsa Fan Base

TULSA, Okla., Oct. 22, 2012 - The Oklahoma City Thunder continued to connect with its fan base in the Tulsa area when the team traveled to Green Country this past weekend.

The Thunder’s Tulsa weekend began on Thursday night at its annual Blue and White Scrimmage, held at the SpiritBank Event Center in Bixby. In addition to serving as the new home for the Tulsa 66ers, the arena also drew the first Blue and White Scrimmage to be held outside of the Oklahoma City area. Previous years’ scrimmages were hosted in Bethany, Yukon and Midwest City.

A training-camp tradition, the Blue and White Scrimmage offers a chance for the Thunder to connect with Oklahoma communities, bringing the excitement of Thunder Basketball to fans across the state. The building easily met its 3,700-seat capacity with many of the tickets being donated to local high schools and the Tulsa Boys Home.

Before the scrimmage, the team was greeted off the highway by a group of 75 fans, followed by a “spirit tunnel” waiting for them at the arena, featuring the Bixby High School cheerleaders and band along with local Thunder fans.

In addition to an all-team scrimmage, the open practice included many Thunder game-night features, such as Rumble, the Thunder Girls, the Storm Chasers dunk team, Thunder Drummers and more.

On Friday, the Thunder organization invited 200 Tulsa Public School students to the BOK Center during the early afternoon for a special presentation by Thunder broadcasters Brian Davis and Grant Long and team mascot Rumble the Bison. Davis and Long emphasized the importance of education, physical fitness, leadership and making good choices. Following their talk, Rumble treated the kids to a special show.

That night, the Thunder took the court for a preseason matchup against the Phoenix Suns. Oklahoma City’s 107-97 win drew a sell-out crowd of 18,233 fans – the highest attendance of any event in the BOK Center’s history.

The Thunder’s connection with its Tulsa fan base is continuing to grow from year to year. The organization says that about 5 percent of its season ticket member base comes from the Tulsa area. The Thunder’s statewide system of fan support groups, Blue Alliance, also has a very active chapter in Tulsa.

In addition to ticket sales, Green Country has shown a rapid growth of Thunder fandom in broadcast ratings. Thunder broadcasts on FOX Sports Oklahoma (Cox Channel 27, 722 HD in Tulsa) have increased 950 percent from the 2008-09 to 2011-12, including a 110 percent increase this past year. Thunder radio broadcasts are also available on The Sports Animal (97.1 FM).

Oklahoma City and Tulsa not only has a bond in the growth of Thunder spirit, but in on-the-court player development. The Thunder’s NBA Development League affiliate, the Tulsa 66ers, has been an annual producer of NBA call-ups for the Thunder organization.

Owned and operated by the Thunder organization, the 66ers provide Tulsa-area fans with a unique way of supporting the Thunder. Since The Professional Basketball Club, LLC, purchased the Tulsa franchise in 2008, Tulsa has sent eight 66ers to the NBA while receiving NBA assignments for 11 players.

In search of potential training camp invites, the Tulsa 66ers hosted open tryouts at the SpiritBank Event Center on Saturday and Sunday. The tryouts began Saturday with two two-hour sessions featuring 63 NBA D-League hopefuls. All of Saturday’s participants were invited back to one of three hour-long sessions on Sunday. The tryout’s participants came from all across North America, representing 17 different states and one Canadian province. Twenty-five of the players were from Oklahoma.

The 66ers, serving as an extension and key developmental piece of the Thunder, host 24 home games in the 2012-13 season, starting with the season opener on Nov. 23 against Texas. Season tickets are on sale now with options that include tickets to a marquee Thunder game in Oklahoma City. For more information on supporting the 66ers in the upcoming season, contact the Tulsa ticket office at (918) 585-4444.