Friday , Dec , 21 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

OKC mayor calls on public support for $100M spending proposal

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City made its first major move toward permanently attracting an NBA franchise Thursday when Mayor Mick Cornett called for the public to support a proposal to spend more than $100 million to overhaul the Ford Center and build a practice facility.

Cornett accelerated plans for the vote by several months so it could be held prior to an April date when NBA owners are expected to consider a request by Seattle SuperSonics owner Clay Bennett to move his team to Oklahoma City.

"If we don’t pass this election, we are not going to get a team," Cornett said. "If you look at the NBA’s history, at relocated franchises, I can’t think of one that went to a city that didn’t have a commitment to a new arena long-term."

Cornett said the improvements would be paid for by extending a current one-penny sales tax for an additional 12 to 15 months. The City Council will consider plans for the election during its Jan. 2 meeting, and the proposed date for the vote would be March 4.

An exact cost for the upgrades should be finalized by the City Council meeting, when a consultant is expected to outline what changes are needed to the five-year-old Ford Center…(Click here for more.)