TL;DR: Email Mayor Cornett at Mayor@okc.gov telling him that you want the watch parties to come back! Also join the Bring Back Thunder Alley Watch Parties page on Facebook!
So, the news came down from the top today: The watch party held outside Chesapeake Energy Arena during the game has been cancelled. Why? Because there was a shooting a couple of blocks away.
When you boil it down to the facts, the reason they canceled this event is absolutely ridiculous. I've scoured the internet, and I haven't come across a single person who supports this decision. It was a horrible PR move. And, let's be clear: Mick Cornett, the mayor of Oklahoma City, decided to shut the event down. Despite the hundreds of other free events with thousands of people attending them.
The sentiment of most Oklahoma City Fans can be summed up by an letter written by Nathan Berry for another Thunder blog, Thunder Obsessed. Be sure to go over there and read the full letter, but I'd like to highlight an especially poignant passage here:
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.
I wholeheartedly agree with what he's said. The only thing I've ever seen police do at or around Thunder games is form an unnecessary perimeter around the refs whenever they review a call, or stop people from jaywalking across EK Gaylord after the game because some cars are idiotic enough to take that route.
I'm not saying that the police have to patrol the area like hawks. But what's wrong with setting up a barricade at the end of the street and searching people for entry? If they're in the area anyway, I don't see a problem with that. If not police, then hire security to do it. Too much money? Make money with concessions. It's not rocket science or anything.
And the money issue really hits home. Why are we making Thunder games an exclusive club for the fortunate? Not everybody can afford a ticket, but I think everybody deserves to be part of the moment.
I could write a big tirade about this, but everyone who's reading this article knows what's up. We need to bring Thunder Alley back.
What can we do about it? We can flood the Mayor's inbox. Mayor Cornett is a reasonable man, and we can show him in a civilized manner, under no uncertain terms, that we want to see the watch party return. His email address is Mayor@okc.gov. Send him an email. I know you think you're one person and that this doesn't matter, but everyone has to email him in order for this to work. It doesn't have to be long. Just tell him that you'd like to see it return. One sentence.
Also, feel free to join the Bring Back Thunder Alley Watch Parties Facebook Page! It's a great way to show your support and get people united behind the cause.