Thunder Making a Visit to Wichita
WICHITA -- From the Northwest panhandle all the way to Hugo, from Altus to Bartlesville and everywhere in between, Oklahomans bleed Thunder blue.
The Thunder organization is cultivating an ethos that aligns with the personality of those in the Oklahoma community. The identity of the team was formed with great emphasis on cultural values and norms that define the spirit of Oklahomans, which has allowed the team to serve as a mirror to the community at large.
Over the past five seasons, the Thunder has built a strong fan base that cares deeply about the team. Every game night, fans cheer with passion for their team, earning Oklahoma City and the Chesapeake Energy Arena the reputation of being among the most difficult places for road teams to play. As the organization continues to perform at a high level on the court and in the community, Thunder pride has gradually grown into new communities throughout Oklahoma and is extending into the Midwest region as a whole.
Every day, players, coaches and staffers are excited to see a wide variety of people wearing Thunder gear, and the entire state representing the team in full force. The Thunder will always support its Oklahoma community first and foremost, even while finding unique ways to expand the brand’s reach and bring new fans into the Thunder family.
Entering its sixth season, the organization is also noticing a larger regional and national following, which is also both flattering and humbling. More and more people are proudly displaying the Thunder logo and cheering on the team both in arenas nationwide and from home, which only further inspires the organization to work diligently and perform at its highest possible levels on and off the court.
“We take a lot of pride in what that logo stands for and ultimately what we want it to stand for,” General Manager Sam Presti said. “It’s one of the things that gets us motivated each year.”
The team and city’s unified rise into a contender has helped build regional, national and international appeal, which is why the Thunder has spent a portion of this preseason continuing to display itself to new markets. The organization and the team gained great value from the first two preseason games of the year, which took place in Istanbul, Turkey, and Manchester, England. The week-long trip was another opportunity to embrace special opportunities and showcase Oklahoma City and the state in a dynamic platform.
A week and a half after that trip, the Thunder hosted a sold-out preseason game in Tulsa, part of an important annual fan connection effort that is an extension into the Thunder’s closest regional market. Tulsa has always been an essential part of the Thunder’s fan base, especially considering it is the home of the 66ers, the Thunder’s D-League team. In addition, the Thunder has continually hosted watch parties, community events and camps in Tulsa to maintain ties with the community.
Tonight, the Thunder will play its final “home” game of the preseason at the INTRUST Bank Arena in Wichita, Kan., in yet another effort to link up with Thunder fans in the region and make inroads with basketball fans throughout the Midwest. When the Thunder tips off against the Chicago Bulls in Wednesday night’s nationally-televised game (8:30 p.m. ESPN and the Thunder Radio Network), it will be proud to play in front of a crowd full of passionate Thunder fans in a part of the country where increasingly more people are cheering for the team.
In Wichita, the Thunder has found a rabid fan base borne out of generations of cultural connectivity to Oklahoma City, which has led to overwhelming support for the Thunder.
“We feel that Wichita has great fans,” Head Coach Scott Brooks said. “Last year we had a great experience there. We’re looking forward to going back there and seeing the atmosphere. It was good for all of our players last year.”