One of my twitter followers emailed me this. It was needed, and for the most part, he’s very accurate. Give it a read, and I’m going to leave it open for comments and discussion.
Dear Citizens of Oklahoma City,
We as citizens of OKC recognized the opportunity years ago when we made commitments in various MAPS proposals that the method to grow our City was to take upon temporary taxation to build projects that have changed our lives. Of most recent was the MAPS3 proposal, also known as “THE BIG LEAGUE CITY” by our very own Mayor, Mick Cornett. Forefront of this campaign was major upgrades to the then Ford Center, furthermore, the Video board
that now projects the games to the Thunder Alley watch party. When this idea was pinpointed I remembered specifically the “concourse” area (whatever the name is) outside the American Airlines Center in Dallas. I have witnessed that area during hockey games & during Big XII Basketball tourney and that is a party atmosphere. One thing that sets it apart from what we’ve witnessed in our Thunder Alley was size/scope and security. There were Police on foot, bicycles and some private security all in that area. In addition to the more confide area of Dallas it is not set-up in the middle of an existing street nor is it a temporary venue.
But when OKC wanted to become a Big League City it also should be noted that organization, security, and logistics should be CORNERSTONE of those efforts; else you’ve set yourself up for problems that rapidly become unmanageable. Citizens from all over the metro area have paid the MAPS taxes, most without a complaint, because we knew we were gonna become a Big League City. With the recent tragic incident, I believe our City has let us down. Many people that show up for the Thunder Alley events–Pregame & Game Viewing–are unable to afford tickets or have families that preclude them from buying that many tickets. These are the same people that ponied-up for the Sales Taxes, so in a small way they are reaping their rewards.
When I attend EVERY home Thunder game I am witness to the fact that our City Police do very little in the way of Crowd control, Traffic Control nor Security. They sit in their cars or on the motorbikes or stand on the street corner chatting or talking on their cell phones. NO walking amongst the crowds checking for misbehavior, NO directing foot & auto traffic for safe passage, NO interaction whatsoever. Is it lack of training, motivation, direction, involvement? Who knows? But I do know this: I pay Taxes, I vote, I campaigned for the MAPS3 Big League City and this was NOT what I envisioned.
Did MAPS3 pay for more cops? Directly no, however, MAPS3 has been a boon beyond belief. Millions of dollars are poured into Downtown OKC for virtually six months every year DIRECTLY from Thunder Basketball and when that much money enters the City’s economy the resulting sales tax increase should provide for more public services. So indirectly, MAPS3 SHOULD be providing for the revenue stream for better protection for the events that are resultant of MAPS3.
The problems during the Lakers watch parties could have happened ANYWHERE a few people gather: Festival of the Arts, State Fair, Memorial Run. But they haven’t; why? Security. There are Police Officers all over the place at those events, directing traffic, crowd control, and mingling amongst the masses.
I will not disagree with anyone that the shootings were not at the Thunder event but in the Bricktown area after the game and certainly the Police cannot be EVERYWHERE. But I can assure you, when Cops are around–closeby or in the vicinity–behavior is influenced. The two groups of people that caused the shootings may or may have not been to Thunder Alley so relating them the closure of a successful Party is ridiculous. The Mayor is shutting down or restricting this street party because of a few knuckleheads. Generally speaking, there were Twenty-Five Thousand people in a few square blocks and four or six people caused a tragic incident that will ultimately kill a successful gathering for a single cause.
We deserve better. A resolution needs to be found: Cox Convention is a short-term answer. But in the long-run, Thunder Alley should return to the very street that an alley refers to. The pregame party and game viewing should be available for everyone. Crowd control, security, groundskeeping, set-up & breakdown, food & drink vendors, non-basketball entertainment all should be on the table and all should be involved in the outcomes. If Oklahoma City wants to be Big League, let’s act Big League.