Each week, we scour the Web for the most interesting Okie-related news being reported both in the state and outside of it. We’re always looking for new links, so if you’ve read something you think we should see, let us know in the comments.
- The Oklahoma City Thunder lost the NBA Finals to the Miami Heat last night (“at the absolute worst time, on the absolute biggest stage,” according to Sports Illustrated), but the consensus in Oklahoma seems to be that, despite the championship loss, the city and the state are better for having the NBA franchise and for the positive national attention it attracted this season. The Oklahoma Gazette’s cover story this week elaborated on the “nuanced” impact the Thunder has had on the city—a city that, heretofore, had “existed in shadows,” most notably those of the 1995 terrorist attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
- While the Gazette did a fine job of pinpointing the Thunder’s intangible value, NPR’s StateImpact Oklahoma pointed out that its tangible value—its economic impact—is virtually “incalculable.” Joe Wertz wrote:
How do you put a price tag on a front-page Wall Street Journal story, or images of Oklahoma City’s skyline and throngs of local fans being beamed all over the world?
There are ways to estimate the real-world economic impact of sports teams, but it’s an imprecise science. OKC officials base their Thunder impact estimates on data collected during the New Orleans Hornets’ temporary stay in Oklahoma. Using that methodology, OKC is looking at more than $53 million in economic impact …
Major sporting events often replace other entertainment spending and disrupt normal economic activity, which makes calculations even more difficult.
- The New York Times, prior to the Heat’s victory, compared Thunder fans to Heat fans by measuring the roars at their respective stadiums during the games. The conclusion? Thunder fans “rumble” while Heat fans “slumber.” Tony Gervino wrote:
Sporting arenas and stadiums routinely proclaim themselves to be the world’s loudest, but such statements come with an implied asterisk. Beyond silly scoreboard graphics featuring wobbly meters and whatnot, no one has actually kept score. (I know because I checked.) Oklahoma City’s home, the Chesapeake Energy Arena, may be the latest to ascend the imaginary throne. Din is too small a word to describe the in-game fan soundtrack. As it turns out, thunder, appropriately, comes closest.
- Forbes credited the Thunder with putting a spotlight on “what may well be the most surprising success story of 21st century America: the revival of the Great Plains.” Joel Kotkin wrote that an area of America once dismissed as flyover country is enjoying a “historic turnaround,” outperforming the rest of the country in terms of economic growth, population, and declining unemployment. He concluded: “It seems clear that the region, long dismissed as irrelevant, will play a much larger role in the nation’s economic future. Like the young Thunder, the people of the Plains now have a prairie wind at their back.”
- Despite such good news, some small towns in Oklahoma are crumbling—like Shamrock, population 100, which is dissolving in its own debt, the Tulsa World reported. “Once a booming oil town,” Shamrock owes $60,000 in debt, and with no foreseeable way to pay it, plans to dissolve. There are a few residents trying to work out an alternative, but so far, they have yet to present a viable plan of action. “It’s a dying town, unfortunately,” a Sapulpa attorney said.
- Speaking of things that are dying, 24/7 Wall St. listed “10 Brands that Will Disappear in 2013,” and at the top of that list is Tulsa-based American Airlines. Douglas A. McIntyre wrote:
American’s parent AMR filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Nov. 2011. The airline itself still operates largely as it did prior to the filing, but with some of the advantages the bankruptcy of a parent brings. Labor costs will be cut, along with debt service and lease obligations for airplanes. AMR says it plans to emerge from Chapter 11 as a viable airline. But that will not happen. US Airways already has made it clear that it wants to buy American’s assets. As soon as the rumors of a potential buyout started in April, some of American’s largest unions said they backed such a plan as a way to protect jobs. Earlier this month, US Airways CEO Doug Parker announced his desire to merge the two airlines. With US Airways probably willing to give AMR’s creditors a good deal to get American’s assets, the potential deal received tremendous support from bondholders and analysts. US Airways has much to gain from this transaction, as its position in the carrier market has been eroded by the mergers of Northwest and Delta and the later combination of United and Continental.
- Oklahoma is harkening back to the days of yore, offering up free land to (small business) settlers willing to put down their roots, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Presented as an example is Grove, Oklahoma, about 100 miles outside of Tulsa, which recently doubled the size of its industrial park and has been “luring businesses with promises of free land for any that stayed for five years.” The city’s venture targets small-business owners—like a New York City-based trophy maker who employs 12—because it recognizes that, according to Grove’s mayor, big businesses “would probably swallow us up and take all our property” and that “it would be damaging to our economy if they decided to leave.”
- A News On 6 story about a woman whose edible garden was destroyed by City of Tulsa workers has been making its way through the blogosphere, where people are irate over the issue, which they say infringes on her civil rights. The woman, Denise Morrison, has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city. The story even ended up on The New York Times’ radar, getting a mention on the paper’s “Green” blog.
- The Jivewired Journal, a music blog, elaborated on a recent post at National Geographic’s The Good Traveler blog, which predicted either Tulsa or OKC to be the next Austin, with a two-part post (part 1, part 2) lauding the “incredible music vibe emanating out of Tulsa.” The blogger reviewed several local bands and venues, writing: “Tulsa the new Austin? At its current pace and growth rate, Austin won’t be able to hold a candle to Tulsa five years from now.”
—Holly Wall, News Editor