Oklahoma basketball: OU officials show interest in new hoops venue

NORMAN, OK - JANUARY 16: Jevon Carter
NORMAN, OK - JANUARY 16: Jevon Carter /

Lloyd Noble Center has been the home of Oklahoma basketball since 1975, but that could possibly change in the near future.

A new 10,000 seat arena is a key element in a large development project that is being proposed as part of the University North Park district in North Norman.

University North Park has been under development for several years and includes retail outlets, dining and hotels.

The proposed new arena would have a seating capacity of around 10,000 and would be developed by the architectural firm CallisonRTKL.

Although the new basketball facility is far from a done deal, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione reportedly told the Norman Transcript that OU is “absolutely interested” in becoming an anchor tenant of the new arena.

Oklahoma Sooners Basketball
Oklahoma Sooners Basketball /

Oklahoma Sooners Basketball

“We certainly have an open mind to it,” another university source told the Oklahoma City Oklahoman.

The OU source said the business district that surrounds the proposed arena could help boost basketball attendance at Sooner games. Lloyd Noble Center is on the South end of the campus and, while more accessible for students, it is less so for fans coming out of the neighboring Oklahoma City metropolitan area.

In addition to seating 10,000 (the LNC seating capacity is a little over 11,500), the new arena would include 800 club seats, 30 loge boxes, 12 suites, 20 luxury suites and an adjacent parking garage that would hold 2,600 vehicles.

No financing details have been disclosed publicly for the project, but the Oklahoman reported on Tuesday that public financing likely would be needed from the city of Norman. A Tax Increment Financing district was set up to help fund the southern half of University Park North development.

Should the University of Oklahoma agree to become a tenant at the new arena, there are no plans to abandon Lloyd Noble Center, which has numerous uses beyond hosting basketball games. The Sooners would still have their basketball offices and practice facilities at LNC, regardless of where OU elects to play its games.