Development Center Under Construction

Together, seven shovels thrust into the ground at 9600 North Oklahoma and scooped up some soggy dirt to officially break ground on the Thunder’s new practice facility.

Located just off of Britton Road near the Broadway Extension, the INTEGRIS Health Thunder Development Center is scheduled to open prior to the 2010-11 season.

Joining Thunder Chairman Clay Bennett, Executive Vice President and General Manager Sam Presti and Head Coach Scott Brooks in the ground-breaking ceremony was INTEGRIS Health President & CEO Stanley Hupfeld, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornet and Councilmen Skip Kelly and Patrick Ryan.

“Certainly an important statement to our players, to our coaches, to our administrative staff and ultimately to the citizens, who paid for it, is that we aspire to and believe that we will become an elite organization in the league, and this building is central to that effort,” Bennett said.

The publicly funded facility will cost about $10 million to build, thanks to the one-cent sales tax approved by Oklahoma City voters in March of 2008. The cost came in at an estimated $5 million under budget. As part of the lease agreement, the Thunder will pay $100,000 annually in rent payments to the City of Oklahoma City.

“This particular facility represents a significant savings of what we’ve got budgeted, which will help offset in some of the areas where we have not done as well,” said Ryan, who heads the Oversight Committee.

INTEGRIS Health, which has the naming rights to the facility, will be the official health care provider for the Thunder. When Hupfeld took the podium he made reference to his burnt orange tie, which he said he wore in support of fellow Texas Longhorn and Thunder forward Kevin Durant.

“We could not be more pleased to be a part of it,” Hupfeld said. "We could not be more pleased to be associated with fine athletes so that we can talk about the opportunity for fitness in our community with our children and use these players as examples of what can be achieved if you focus on your own health.”

The facility will include two full-court basketball courts, a 27-seat team classroom and an expanded sports medicine and hydrotherapy area.

“It’s called the development center because truly that’s what it is for us,” Presti said. “This building is about helping our players, helping our coaches, helping our staff improve everyday.”

Contact Chris Silva