Populous masterplan for Paycom Center revamp


Oklahoma paycom center renovations Image: Paycom Center, Steve Morgan, CC BY-SA 4.0

The City of Oklahoma City has selected global architectural design firm, Populous, to develop a masterplan for the renovations at ASM Global-managed Paycom Center in Oklahoma, US. New amenities and improvements are designed to enhance the guest experience at the National Basketball Association (NBA) team Oklahoma City Thunder games and live entertainment events.

‘Populous’ stated that renovation plans are part of voter-approved Oklahoma City’s MAPS 4, a debt-free public improvement program funded by a temporary sales tax. The funding includes $105 million for Paycom Center enhancements and renovations. Populous previously designed and delivered the state-of-the-art MAPS 3 Oklahoma City Convention Center, a $288 million project also funded by the MAPS program that opened January 2021.

Populous is a global design firm spanning four continents that works with communities of all sizes and venues of all uses. Using both technical and visionary knowledge, the firm sets the stage for the next generation of venues and design with equal parts data and an understanding of how people come together.

The 18,203-capacity Paycom Center is an arena located in Downtown Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States. It opened in 2002 and since 2008 has served as the home venue for the National Basketball Association’s (NBA’s) Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Oklahoma City Thunder is an American professional basketball team based in Oklahoma City. The Thunder competes in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league’s Western Conference Northwest Division. The team plays its home games at the Paycom Center.

Said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt, “Investing in our downtown arena more than 20 years ago proved to be a game-changing decision for Oklahoma City. Paycom Center, home of the Oklahoma City Thunder, serves as an economic driver and a top destination for live sports and entertainment. Our continued investment will focus first on fan amenities, and we’re excited about the new features the facility will offer to residents, visitors and event organizers.”

Said Populous Senior Principal Brad Clark, “The masterplan will chart a path for reinvigorating Paycom Center through targeted improvements, providing an exceptional experience to all types of visitors. We are in the business of designing for unforgettable, meaningful moments, and we’re looking forward to continuing our work in Oklahoma City with this exciting project.”

Construction on several initial projects is scheduled to start this year with new 300-level seats and elevators. Further upgrades scheduled for 2023 include new seating, a new scoreboard, enhanced 300-level concession areas and signature bar, and further technology and infrastructure improvements. To avoid disruptions to major events and the NBA schedule, additional upgrades will be completed through a multiyear approach, with renovations anticipated through 2028.

The downtown arena was built debt-free as part of the original MAPS program that passed by Oklahoma City residents in 1993. The facility opened its doors in 2002. Welcoming more than one million guests each year, the Paycom Center upgrades will provide transformative improvements that enable the City to continue to attract top-tier concerts, sporting events and other entertainment offerings.



Expansion and renovations resume

The ‘Paycom Center’ stated that remodeling is complete outside the building near I-40 and Robinson where a new grand entrance was added during this final phase of renovations.

Additions and improvements that were made during this final phase include:

  • The new grand entry with a multistory atrium;
  • A new 75’ wide x 21’ tall exterior video display on the North face of the facility;
  • New restaurants and lounges;
  • A family fun zone; and
  • Team offices and expanded locker rooms.


Previous improvements

The ‘Paycom Center’ further stated that during 2009, the SMG-managed facility closed for five months during the Summer to complete the second phase of improvements which included:

  • Upgraded lighting and finishes on the upper-level concourse (aka ‘LoudCity’);
  • New terrace suites and lounges on the club level;
  • New telescopic (retractable) and upgraded seating in the lower bowl;
  • State-of-the-art scoreboard and production facilities; and
  • Locker room renovations.

During 2010, renovations continued with upgrades to concession areas and more:

  • Visible improvements inside the arena bowl include the fully digital scoreboard (31 feet tall, and 35 feet wide) and the upgraded video displays at each end of the arena, all of which are now controlled from new state-of-the-art production facilities;
  • In the lower bowl, fans enjoy the new telescopic (retractable seating) and wider, more luxurious leather seats;
  • On the club level, the 48 new terrace suites and two new terrace lounges make a big impression and add to the premium seating options available. Additional seating upgrades include redecorating the remaining luxury suites and adding new bunker suites on the lower levels; and
  • Outside the arena bowl, the upper-level concourse now features redesigned floors, lighting and flat-screen television monitors for a brighter, more fan-friendly atmosphere.


Initial upgrades

Improvements made during the first phase of the project include the installation of high-definition capable broadcast wiring and a new lighting system, which were completed prior to the first home game of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s inaugural season. Restrooms throughout the facility also received major upgrades during the initial phase of renovations, and now feature granite countertops, eye-catching tile, flat-screen televisions, and more.


Funding is provided by a one-cent sales tax overwhelmingly approved by the Oklahoma City voters on March 4th, 2008, to fund major upgrades to the Paycom Center and build an offsite practice facility for an NBA franchise. The 15-month tax took effect on January 1st, 2009.

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